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9 Tammuz 5759 - June 23, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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National Water Carrier Celebrates 35 Years

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Last week marked 35 years since the installation of Israel's National Water Carrier, a large public works project that brings water from Lake Kinneret in the north to the rest of the country.

The water carrier began operations on the 10th of June, 1964. It carried 120 million cubic meters of water during its first year; 230 million during its second year; and 320 million by 1967. Since then, it has annually been carrying 400 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret by means of a 130- kilometer-long system extending from the Kinneret to Rosh Haayin. This year, due to the drought, only 140 million cubic meters of water will be drawn from the Kinneret into the National Water Carrier.

At its outset, the purpose of the National Water Carrier was to transport irrigation water from the North to the country's center and South. However, by the beginning of the 1990s it was providing nearly half of Israel's drinking water. It is predicted that by the year 2010, 80% of its water will be used to supply of household water needs.

In 1998, the total water consumption in systems associated with the National Carrier was 820 million cubic meters: 295 of which were directed to agricultural use.

The importance of the national system is especially evident during the current drought, because it is the only system which enables coordination between the various water sources, the Kinneret and the mountainous and coastal aquifers, the main water reservoirs of Israel.

In an average year, water from the Kinneret constitutes a third of the drinking water supply in the country. This year, however, due to the low state of water reserves in the Kinneret, the Mekorot Water Company pumps the water required by the National Water Carrier mainly from the sea and from the mountain and coastal aquifers, channeling Kinneret water mainly to the northern part of the country. Between January and May of this year, Mekorot drew only 30 million cubic meters from the Kinneret, as opposed to the 106 million cubic meters of water it drew during the corresponding months last year.

The Kinneret's water level is now 212.05 meters high, only 95 centimeters above the "red line," below which serious damage may occur to the lake and its surroundings.

Currently, Mekorot is renovating three of its pumping units at Sapir, the first pumping station in the line, which has been functioning since 1964. These renovations are intended to guarantee a steady water supply for the next 35 years.

Pumping units in Tsalmon, the second pumping station, will also undergo renovations.

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