Author: Clothilde Mraffko
EIN GEV, Israel – Not long ago, bathers at Ein Geva put their towels in the hall off the coast of Galilee.
Today they laid their 100 meters (yards) on their sunshades further on the sandy beach, which appeared due to the shrinkage of the iconic water body.
"Every time we arrive, we feel pain in our hearts," said 47-year-old Yael Lichi, who for 15 years attended the famous lake with his family.
"The lake is a symbol of Israel. Every time it's drought, it's the first thing we talk about."
In front of Lich, wooden boats with Christian pilgrims on board fly in peaceful waters, between groups from all over the world who visit.
The Galilean Sea, where Christians believe that the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) went water, has been shrinking for years, mainly because of its excessive use, and environmentalists are alarming.
There are plans to revive the fresh body of the body, which the Israelis know as Kinneret and some like the Tiberias lake.
For Israel, the lake is very important because it has long been the main source of water for the country. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz provides its water level daily on its back page.
Its decline has been a source of serious concern. When the two islands recently appeared due to a drop in water levels, it received widespread attention in the Israeli media.
Since 2013, "we are under a low red line," above which "the salinity increases, fish have difficulty surviving and affected vegetation," said Amir Givati, a hydrologist from the Israeli water authority.
The level is only about 20 cm (less than eight inches) above the low record that was connected to 2001, except that at that time, 400 meters cubic meters (14.1 billion cubic feet) of water was irrigated a year.
"This year we pumped only 20 million cubic meters, but the lake is in a very bad condition," said Givati.
In addition, it has 50 million cubic meters that Israel will send to neighboring Jordan as part of peace agreements.
Israel built a national aqueduct in the 1950s, after the country's birth, when it was attempting to build a state and tried to "make the wilderness bloom," as it was already a pioneer.
The aqueduct carried water from the lake to the rest of the country.
"The Tiberia lake was used as a national reservoir," said Julie Trottie, professor specializing in Israeli and Palestinian water issues.
He said that a man-made canal of water to the west went to the Mediterranean coast and in the desert of the Negev in the south.
This system has not been established for about 10 years. Now most of the houses in the west of the country use desalinated water from the Mediterranean, but the farms are irrigated with water that has been properly treated and recycled.
But East Israel has no access to desalinated water, said Orit Skutelsky, a Natural Protection Society in Israel.
Farmers in the region rely on rivers that provide 90 percent of the lake's resources.
According to the researcher, dozens of pumps annually dispose of nearly 100 million cubic meters (3.5 billion cubic feet) of those sources whose flow has fallen and is no longer enough to provide the lake.
Within a few kilometers from Einhev Beach, at the foot of the rocky mountains, huge networks cover banana trees, the leaves of which cool with the surrounding dry vegetation.
"We call it the banana valley," said Meir Barkan, Tourism Director at Einhev Resort.
"When they started planting trees, there was no water problem, and banana is the only fruit you produce all year round."
But without a desalinated or recycled water farm, there is a major "competition between resources between nature, agriculture and tourism," said Eran Feitelson, geography professor at the occupied Jewish University of Jerusalem.
The solution to the agronomist Lior Avichai of the Scale Nisson Research Center is not to "kill agriculture and the local economy", but use less water.
The authorities propose to provide the region with desalinated water through an aqueduct.
Skutelsky said that in order to better manage the ecosystem, water should be sent upstream and then allowed to flow naturally.
But "it would be very expensive," said Skutelsky. – AFP