A plan given cabinet approval yesterday will pump 100 million cubic metres of water annually by 2022 into the lake in northern Israel's Galilee region, Yechezkel Lifshitz, deputy director general of Israel's energy and water ministry, told AFP.
Last year Israel's water authority said the body of water, hit by years of drought, had reached its lowest level in a century.
Known in Hebrew as Lake Kinneret, it covers an area of roughly 160 sq km.
Ten years ago it provided 400 million cubic metres a year of fresh water and was the country's largest freshwater reserve.
But a series of dry winters have reduced its level to such an extent that pumping had to be limited to 30-40 million cubic metres a year.
Lifshitz said they currently supply 670 million cubic metres annually, 80 per cent of drinking water consumed by Israeli households.
"This is innovative and important, at least to the extent we are doing this, and has not been done until now," he said.
Lifshitz said that the long-term goal was to pump 1.1 billion cubic metres per year by 2030, rising to 1.2 billion when needed.
He added that the supply of desalinated water should not cause any ecological damage.
"The lower the lake level, the more salty the water gets, so the water that we're going to discharge, which contains little salt, will restore the balance," he said.
But the desalination of seawater has a "relatively high cost", he said, equivalent to more than USD 0.70 cents per cubic metre.
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