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Israel approves urgent water plan to solve drought

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Staff Writer | June 11, 2018
The Israeli cabinet approved on Sunday an urgent plan to address the country's water crisis following a five-year drought.
Israel drought
Land   Israel saw a five-year drought
The plan includes the construction of two new large desalination plants and channeling desalinated water to the Sea of Galilee in order to improve the water quality in one of Israel's main water source.

According to the Water Authority, Israel's official agency for managing the water sector, Israel is in a water crisis due to five consecutive years of drought, with an estimated shortage of 2.5 billion cubic meters of water in the Sea of Galilee.

Under the new plan, the quantity of desalinated water will be doubled with an annual production of 1.1 billion cubic meters. The cabinet said this goal would be achieved by 2030 with new desalination facilities to be built in the western Galilee and in Soreq in central Israel.

Another key element of the plan deals with restoring the flow in seven streams in northern Israel, including the Jordan River. The flow in the rivers has become extremely weak.

Under the 100-million-shekel ($28 million) rehabilitation plan, the pumping of water from these streams will be halted, facilities for reserving waters will be built, and the water supply to the streams from the main water system will be enhanced.

The Sea of Galilee would be connected to the national water system in order to pour 100 million cubic meters of desalinated water per year into the lake to replenish it.

The cabinet said it will help restore the lake's level and improve its water quality.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz praised the plan, saying that "this strategic plan will address the exceptional sequence of the last five years of drought, which have brought Israel's water economy to the greatest shortage in the past 100 years."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet that Israel overcomes the water crisis by using technology.

"Over the years, Israel has shown an amazing ability to deal with the water problem, which has caused endless conflicts in our region for thousands of years.

"Thanks to technology, initiatives, and creativity, we have succeeded in overcoming it," he said, according to a statement released by his office.