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Israel's Sea of Galilee to get desalinated seawater top-up

AFP  |  Jerusalem 

The shrinking of Galilee, the inland lake where Christians believe walked on water, is to be topped up with desalinated seawater, a said today.

A plan given cabinet approval yesterday will pump 100 million cubic metres of annually by 2022 into the lake in northern Israel's region, Yechezkel Lifshitz, deputy of Israel's and ministry, told AFP.

Last year Israel's authority said the body of water, hit by years of drought, had reached its lowest level in a century.

Situated 200 metres (656 feet) below level and 45 km from the coast, the of is mentioned in the bible as the site of a number of Jesus's miracles.

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.

has managed to escape water cuts through the use of five plants built along the

Lifshitz said they currently supply 670 million cubic metres annually, 80 per cent of drinking water consumed by Israeli households.

He said that two more plants would be built to serve the new project -- one in the and another south of

The water would then be pumped into the lake's tributaries in

"We are turning the into a reservoir for desalinated water," told yesterday's cabinet meeting.

"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 of seawater has a "relatively high cost", he said, equivalent to more than USD 0.70 cents per cubic metre.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, June 11 2018. 21:35 IST