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News 5-year drought raises questions over Israel's water strategy

KFAR YUVAL, Israel (AP) — For years, public service announcements warned Israelis to save water: Take shorter showers. Plant resilient gardens. Conserve. Then Israel invested heavily in desalination technology and professed to have solved the problem by tapping into the abundant waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The once ubiquitous conservation warnings vanished.

Now, a five-year drought is challenging that strategy, as farmers struggle and the country's most important bodies of water shrink. It's a confounding situation for a country that places itself on the forefront of desalination technology in an arid region, where water is a key geostrategic issue that has its own clauses in peace agreements. "Nobody expected five years of drought in a row, so despite our desalination capacity, it's still a very, very grave situation," said Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister of energy.

Some say Israel's technological prowess may not be enough to overcome the forces of nature. Situated in the heart of the Middle East, Israel is in one of the driest regions on earth, traditionally relying on a short rainy season each winter to replenish its limited supplies. Years of decreased rainfall have reduced the Sea of Galilee, Israel's main natural water source, to some of its lowest recorded levels, and Israel has stopped pumping water from it to its national system.

The current drought has also dried out some tributaries that feed into the Jordan River, which flows south into the Sea of Galilee then squiggles 220 miles (360 kilometers) to the lowest place on Earth, the Dead Sea. The biblical bodies of water are crucial to the survival and stability of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, but they are increasingly drying up, largely due to climate change, growing populations and the greater use of water for agriculture.

Contact information n/a
News type Inbrief
File link http://www.whig.com/article/20180804/AP/308049978#
Source of information www.whig
Subject(s) AGRICULTURE , WATER DEMAND
Geographical coverage Israel,
News date 06/08/2018
Working language(s) ENGLISH
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