Israel wants to save Lake Tiberias thanks to desalated water from Mediterranean

The project, unique of its kind, will allow the Hebrew State to preserve this legendary site, while supplying Jordan with drinking water.

by Clothilde Mraffko (lake of Tiberiads (Israel), Special Envoy)

In Israel, it is said that the mood of the country is measured by the level of Lake Tiberias. In 2019, after five years of drought, the Israelis were therefore concerned about the extent of water located 211 meters from sea level, not far from the northern border with Jordan. At the time, the “black line” – critical zone – threatened to be crossed: it would no longer have been possible to pump the water from the lake without damaging the ecosystem. Since then, two rainy winters have revealed the situation, but scientists believe that series droughts should multiply in the future – one of the consequences of climate change.

The Israeli government therefore launched a project in 2018 in 2018 which he claims unique to the world: to replace the lake of Tiberias, with desalged water drawn from the Mediterranean. Five years of work and a billion shekels (267 million euros) later, the valves opened on December 27, 2022, on the northern heights of the lake, in the middle of the fields where sheep graze and furnish the cows.

“Everything happened as planned, a Swiss clock!” Rejoices Lior Gutman, spokesperson for the Israeli water company Mekorot, planted in front of an enclosure with two huge pipes. Below, an artificial river bed joins the natural tsalmon dried watercourse, which spills into the lake. At the end of December 2022, the test lasted five hours, in front of a handful of officials and journalists, but, since then, the valves are closed: this year, the tiberiade lake is afloat. SRC = “Data: Image/SVG+XML,%3CSVG%20xmlns = ‘http: //’%20viewbox=’0%200%20664%20443’%3e%3C/svg% 3rd “Data-Srcset =” 1328W, https: // 664W “Data-SIZES =” (Min-WIDTH: ) 664px, 100VW “alt =” construction of a new pipeline by the National Water Company of Israel near Kibbutz Ravid, west of the Galileo Sea, March 16, 2022.
“Width =” 664 “Height =” 443 “> Construction of a new pipeline by the National Water Company of Israel near Kibbutz Ravid, west of the sea Galileo, March 16, 2022. Menahem Kahana/AFP

“It is a revolution, with very practical benefits, but also in symbolic significance”, enthuses Eran Feitelson, professor of Geography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The project, he explains, reverses the historical sense of water in Israel. Until the mid-2000s, the country covered its needs by pumping into Lake Tiberias; Water was redistributed in the rest of the territory via the National Aqueduct, built in the early 1960s and which descended until the desert of the Negev. In 2005, the Hebrew State inaugurated its first desalination plants; today, More than 80 % of the country’s drinking water comes from its five sites on the edge of the Mediterranean and two others are under construction. In agriculture Re, Israel has become a champion of wastewater recovery.

strategic interest

The new bailout project of the Tiberiade lake therefore completes to overthrow logic: now, it is the old reservoir of the country which is fueled via the aqueduct and the water flows from south to north. The Water Company has greatly supported the existing infrastructure, with some adaptations, in particular “some engineering work to reverse the flow and the construction of a new pipe to reach the tsalmon watercourse”, details Guy Reshef, who directs the Israeli hydrological service.

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/Media reports cited above.