« A worker takes the water level of the Sea of Galilee, which is rapidly declining.

Israel: Another Potential Catastrophe

July 21, 2008 | From

Four years of consecutive drought in Israel has sent its water economy to the brink of catastrophe. Is Israel under a weather curse?

Israel’s Water Authority authorized emergency plans on July 8 to combat the nation’s worst water crisis in recorded history. A severe lack of rainfall is causing the nation’s primary sources of fresh water to reach dangerously low levels.

Take, for example, Israel’s main source of fresh water, the Sea of Galilee. Also known as Lake Kinneret, the lake supplies up to 30 percent of Israel’s potable water. Two weeks ago, the Kinneret dropped below its bottom red line—the water level at which it is recommended to stop pumping from the water source. And Water Authority head Uri Shani predicts the lake will reach its black line by December of this year. When a water source falls under its black line, the source will suffer serious, possibly irreversible, damage and the quality of the water declines.

Israel’s two other main water sources are in serious trouble too. The Coastal Aquifer is already below its black line and in danger of being contaminated by salt water from the Mediterranean. Then there is the Mountain Aquifer. Located behind the mountains of Judea and Samaria, this aquifer is a meter below its red line and is expected to reach its black line by the end of this year as well.

So all three of Israel’s main natural water sources are in jeopardy, but the government has no choice but to continue pumping. Faced with a growing demand for water from its citizens and the Palestinians, and a responsibility to supply Jordan with 500 million cubic meters of water annually, Israel is taking some drastic measures to ameliorate the crisis.

The steps, which will most likely take effect next year, consist of nearly doubling the price of water for public and domestic use, prohibiting the watering of grass, shrinking the allocation of fresh water for agriculture (while boosting efforts to reclaim sewage water for agricultural purposes), and a public relations campaign to encourage water conservation. Shani warned these measures will dry out large areas of cultivation, possibly causing food shortages and food price increases.

The emergency plan also includes pumping water from sources that feed Lake Kinneret (water that is supposed to reach the Kinneret by 2010), purifying contaminated wells, and increasing output from desalination plants as well as building new ones. These projects will cost Israel 12 billion shekels over a period of five years.

But the worse news the Water Authority had to share was that the water crisis is expected to last a few more years, and next year is predicted to be even worse.

Some water experts blame the government’s mismanagement of the water resources. While this has its role in the crisis, four straight years of drought is hard to simply push aside. Last year’s winter rainfall (winter is Israel’s rainy season) yielded only 65 percent of the long-term average. As Water Authority Spokesman Uri Schor put it, “There just isn’t any water.”

Israel is not the only country suffering from drought. Australia is afflicted with drought and portions of the country are experiencing severe water restrictions. California’s drought and heat waves created the perfect situation for the state to catch on fire.

God is trying to get a lesson across to these nations. Your Bible says God controls the weather and that He has the power to give rain in due season. There is a real reason why Israel, America and Australia are suffering from drought.

In a world panicking about global warming, it may be hard to see God’s presence in the out-of-control weather patterns. But before you dismiss the notion that weather is a function of God’s will and power, read “Healing Our Sick Land.” •

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