Feature: Israel feeds back freshwater lake with desalinated seawater-Xinhua

Feature: Israel feeds back freshwater lake with desalinated seawater

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-05-17 16:40:45

JERUSALEM, May 17 (Xinhua) -- The Sea of Galilee, a freshwater lake in northern Israel that used to supply most of the country's drinking water, has been threatened by climate change and drought in recent years, pushing the Israeli authority to "feed back" it with desalinated seawater.

"In the past, we saw the nature as a supplier, it can give us water," Yechezkel Lifshitz, deputy director-general of Energy Infrastructures and Water Resources at Israel's Ministry of Energy, told Xinhua. "Today we see the nature as a consumer. It is kind of changing of the concept."

Due to the uneven distribution of water resources in the country, Israel completed in 1964 the construction of the National Water Carrier, a project that brings freshwater from the Sea of Galilee to central and southern Israel. By the beginning of the 21st century, about 400 million cubic meters of water per year had been transported by this carrier.

Thanks to the development of the desalination technology, Israel has gradually got rid of its reliance on the Sea of Galilee since 2005, when the country's first desalination plant was built.

There are five desalination plants in Israel that produce about 600 million cubic meters of water annually, about 80 percent of the domestic water consumption, according to Lifshitz.

Meanwhile, the Sea of Galilee remains important to Israel as an "emergency water tank" in case of malfunction of desalination plants, said Lior Gutman, spokesperson for Israeli national water company Mekorot.

The water level of the lake has suffered several sharp declines in recent years, especially during the five years of drought between 2013 and 2018, and almost hit the "black line" of 214.87 meters below sea level. Ecologists have warned that lower water level would result in irreversible damage to ecological system and water supply.

In 2018, the Israeli government decided to "establish a national upside-down water pipe" costing around 1 billion shekels (about 290 million U.S. dollars), which "will create a possibility to add water to the Sea of Galilee whenever needed," Gutman told Xinhua.

The aim of the plan is to pump water in a "measured way," he added. "Maybe in some years the pipe will be needed and in some years maybe no."

The "feed back" project has entered its final stage and is scheduled to finish by the end of 2022, said Lifshitz. "I have not seen any similar project in the world that you put back water to nature."