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Sea of Galilee Disappearing at an Alarming Rate

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Uploaded on Feb 9, 2011

The Israeli media sounds the alarm time and again: "There is no water," "Water consumption should be reduced." Since the main source of water in Israel is the Sea of Galilee, we went out to investigate and indeed found a very sad sight.

The Sea of Galilee, or as it is called in Israel "Lake Kinneret," is in fact the only natural water reservoir in the country.

This lake has great historical significance and is supposed to provide the water for most of the population in Israel.

However, in recent years its water level has dropped sharply. Is there true cause for concern?

[Mayer Melman, Boat Owner]:
"I remember how its color used to be a stronger blue and the water was cleaner. Can you see the water line? Almost five-and-a-half meters are missing."

Fisherman from Tiberias]:
"All this was full of water. It was full. Seven, eight years ago this was its maximum height, and slowly it began to drop."

We turned to the authority responsible for providing water to the population, hoping to learn why is there so much less water in Lake Kinneret today.

[Uri Shor, Water Authority Spokesman]:
"It's simply that there is less rain. Something has changed, something has happened. We're talking about the whole region. The whole region is thirsty for water... I am very worried by the lack of rain and about the drop of water level both in Lake Kinneret and in other water sources. This is the seventh year in a row without substantial rain. We're at the end of January in a clear, beautiful day, with no rain."

We learned further that the whole region of the Middle East shares the same plight as that of Lake Kinneret.

[Uri Shor, Water Authority Spokesman]:
"The whole drainage basin of the Kinneret is a very large area that includes a part of Israel, part of Lebanon, and a part of Syria. This means that all of this huge area that is supposed to nourish this lake also suffers from lack of rain."

We expressed our concern, asking whether the situation is indeed so serious.

[Uri Shor, Water Authority Spokesman]:
"It's been a long while since we had reached the bottom red line of the Kinneret and are beneath it. This is a line we wish very hard not to have reached at all. The bottom red line is the water level under which processes begin to take place, ones that are causing damage to the quality of the water and danger to this whole water source."

The reduction in water quantity of the Sea of Galilee has many implications, pertaining to more than just drinking water.

[Uri Shor, Water Authority Spokesman]:
"Part of the concern of reaching low levels is that the whole fabric of fauna and flora may sustain permanent damage."

And indeed, fishermen that we met seemed to be deeply worried.

[Fisherman from Tiberias]:
"This situation has serious effects on the fish. They should be coming close to the shore to lay their eggs, but they are not coming now."

[Meyer Melman, Boat Owner]:
"When there was water and it was cleaner you could drop a net anywhere and catch fish, huge quantities of them. Now the fish are extinct, everything here starts to disappear."

People's livelihood is affected, too.

[Meyer Melman, Boat Owner]:
"People in Tiberias used to make their living mostly from fishing. Today, sadly, there are no fish, the water level is going down, the old fishermen are tired. Only a few have remained here."

And what does Kinneret's Water Authority Spokesman think of the current condition?

[Uri Shor, Water Authority Spokesman]:
"it's obvious that when the water level is dropping and the level of saltiness goes up, changes would occur in all aspects of life in the lake and certainly that could result in a total reversal wherein the lake would become a dead lake. There is no denying that this is a big problem, and I am very worried."

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