The rising waters of the Sea of Galilee have taken precedence even over the latest elections antics or the Peace Initiative of the century. The water level of the Sea of Galilee is not only a barometer of the mood of the country but also a measure of the trauma of living in a desert area. for many, it is a measure of global warming together with an inbred fear of remaining without water.
Israel’s first national infrastructure project was the creating of the National Water Carrier that led the waters of the Sea of Galilee to the center of the country and the Negev. It was a symbol of the greening of the country and the success in creating flourishing agriculture in the desert. Since then much has changed. Today Israel gets most of its water from desalination plants and the National Water Carrier is rarely used – but we are still conditioned to checking out the water level of the Sea of Galilee.
Since the 1930s the Sea of Galilee has two water levels – minimum when pumping has to stop and maximum when flooding of Tiberias will occur. The levels were set when the defunct Naharayim Electric Plant was built. In order to create a waterfall that would generate electricity Pinhas Ruthenberg, the founder of the Israel Electric Company built a dam on the outlet of the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee – raising the level by over six meters. This was fixed as the maximum height of the waters. The dam on the outlet of the river, the Deganiya Dam, was to be opened when the waters reached a dangerous level.
The minimum level was set in order to stop pumping water from the Sea of Galilee, in order to preserve fisheries and the quality of the water. So, when Jesus walked on the waters of the Sea of Galilee, water level was much lower than it is today.
The last time the Deganiya dam was opened was two decades ago in 1992. Since then the waters have never reached a level that needed the opening of the dam. But, the abundant rains of the last month has sent the engineers of the Israeli Water Company to check the dam and see if the chains and pulleys are all still working properly. Even with the dam wide open the level of the Sea of Galilee will only go down by 7 centimeters a day. With the current influx of water into the sea, the dam will have to be opened a long time before the maximum level is reached. In the past four weeks, the level has risen by1.60 meters. Today we are 1.28 meters away from the maximum level. With the existing current weather conditions and then the melting of the snows on Mount Hermon it seems that the opening of the dam is not far away.