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April 3, 2012 11:10 am

Rains from Samaria – The Largest Source of Water in Israel

avatar by Aryeh Savir / Tazpit News Agency

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In Israel, this winter has been one of the rainiest in years and it is not over yet. In several parts of Israel the rainfall has surpassed the annual average and Israelis have seen the coldest winter in years, bringing several snowfalls across the country.

The mountain aquifer situated in the Judea and Samaria area supplies an average of 600 million cubic meters of water. This is the most significant body of water in Israel, supplying Israelis and Arabs alike. The size of the pooling area is 6,000 square meters. It is filled by rains falling in Judea and Samaria, although the actual spring points are on the west side of the Green Line.

In comparison, Lake Kinneret, which is often the center of attention when relating to sources of water in Israel, supplies 570 million cubic meters.

The aquifer waters have been one of the most significant points of contention during the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and negotiations have ended with no agreement. The Palestinians claim that the rain falls on their territory, and therefore the water is theirs. Israel’s position is that the water is legally owned by the State of Israel through the right of the “Usage Tenure”, which was created during the first years of the State.

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In the meantime, Israel has entered the last segment of winter, but the rivers are still flowing strongly, and the Kinneret continues to rise. It has recently risen by another several CM, raising a total of 218 CM this winter so far. The thawing of snow on Mount Hermon, together with continued rain, is expected to result in a further rise in the Kinneret level, adding to much needed water supplies after several years of drought. The sea level is now 148 CM above the lower red line, and it will take another 272 CM to fill the lake completely.

For the first time in twenty years Mount Hermon will be covered with snow over the Passover holiday. The recent snow storms on the mountain have created conditions condusive to skiing which have not existed in years.

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