In the arid Middle East, water—not oil—is actually king. Water is life. Israelis, always resourceful and innovative, have developed some mind-blowing technologies over the years to make sure we have water to drink, irrigate our crops, and even share with (sell to) our neighbors. And now, this year, the Sea of Galilee—which used to be our primary source of drinking water—is almost at capacity for the first time in three decades.
For us, the rains come in winter (see my blog about Winter in Israel). From about October to the middle of May, whatever rain we are going to get, we get. The rest of the year, there is not a drop—it is bone dry. So, this year, with still about two months to go in our rainy season, authorities reported that the Sea of Galilee is near its upper red line threshold. It is only about a foot below its maximum capacity!
There are reasons that the situation seems to have turned around. It used to be that the Sea of Galilee provided Israelis with drinking water. But now it comes from the Sea. “Today, 70% of Israel’s domestic water demand is provided by desalination, a process by which salt and other impurities are removed from seawater to produce potable water.”
This may seem strange to celebrate water levels on the iconic Sea of Galilee, but the abundance is not ever guaranteed. The Galilee (or Kinneret in Hebrew) is actually a freshwater lake, not a “sea,”—and it’s the largest one we have in Israel. And while we don’t depend on it for our drinking water anymore, it is a good way to gauge our annual rainfall.
Only six years ago, the situation of the Kinneret was very bleak. In 2016, the lake measured 697 feet BELOW sea level (it was 12 feet below the upper red line). It has seen wild highs over the years—which can be dangerous for the environment in another way. Thankfully, the Israeli Water Authority monitors the levels and utilizes the Degania Dam at the southern end of the lake to prevent flooding in Tiberias and other cities around the Galilee.
Any way you look at it, rainfall in the Middle East is a blessing from the LORD!
The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. (Deut. 28:12)