Dam opened to revive Jordan River for first time in 50 years

The water flow from the Kinneret is part of the multiyear plan to revive the ecology along the lower Jordan River.

For the first time since the Degania Dam on the Jordan River just south of the Kinneret was built in 1964, it has been opened for the free flow of water into the lower Jordan River. The Water Authority announced that Mekorot National Water Company will initially allow a flow of 1,000 cubic meters an hour (8.76 million cubic meters a year), and will gradually increase the flow to 30 million cubic meters a year.

The water flow from the Kinneret is part of the multiyear plan to revive the ecology along the lower Jordan River, which has suffered for decades from the pouring of brackish water and sewage into the river. The program begun today includes the construction of sewage treatment plants to improve the quality of the water flow into the lower Jordan River from Tiberias and its environs.

Mekorot, the Israel Nature and National Parks Authority, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection are cooperating on the program. The Water Authority said that, in the coming years, the participating authorities would allocate NIS 400-500 million to reduce the salinity in the lower Jordan River and to develop tourism along its course.

The decision to allow water flow from the Kinneret to the lower Jordan River was made after the heavy rainfall this winter, which improved the condition of the Kinneret and raised its water level. In addition, the construction of seawater desalination plants has allowed Mekorot to pump less water from the lake. According to the Water Authority, half of Israel's water now comes from desalination or recycled water, and that this proportion will rise in the coming years, in order to reduce the dependence on rainfall.

The Water Authority, however, cautioned about the effect of the regular water flow into the lower Jordan River on the condition of the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea's northern basin loses an average of one million cubic meters of water a year, and regular water flow from the Jordan River will not solve the Dead Sea's environmental problems.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 26, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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