I get a news email everyday from Israel Today, and this is today's update:
'Pray for rain,' urges Israeli water official
A senior Israel Water Authority official on Monday said that Israelis better start praying for an exceedingly rainy winter because the nation today stands on the edge of a severe and protracted drought.
Water Authority official Shuli Chen made those remarks to Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper shortly after checking and confirming that the country's main fresh water reservoir, the Sea of Galilee, had dropped below its lower red line.
Chen said that five years ago the Sea of Galilee, known in Israel as Lake Kinneret, had dropped even lower, but only at the end of a very dry summer. This time around, the lake is at its lower red line and summer is only beginning. At this rate, experts expect the Sea of Galilee to reach its "black line" by mid-October, at which point irreversible damage will have been done to the quality of the lake's water.
Already damage is being done to the Sea of Galilee's water quality, former Water Authority chief Dan Zaslavsky told Israel Radio on Tuesday, noting that when the lower red line is reached all water pumping is supposed to stop.
The problem is that if Israel stops pumping water now, the nation will suddenly lose some 30 percent of its fresh water, necessitating draconian rationing policies. Israel is also obligated under its peace treat with Jordan to provide its neighbor with some 50 million cubic meters of water every year. Without the Sea of Galilee, Israel would be unable to meet that commitment.
But if the black line is reached, Israel will be unable to draw any more water from the Sea of Galilee as the national water carrier's pumps will be exposed and no longer under water.
In the face of this dire situation, the Water Authority on Tuesday put forward an emergency plan that restricts the use of water for private gardening and demands that the government accelerate plans to construct additional desalination plants. The plan also calls on the public to voluntarily practice greater water conservation by taking shorter showers, washing cars with buckets of water rather than running hoses, and taking greater care to use less water when washing dishes.
If these measures and the coming winter rains fail to alleviate the problem, Zaslavsky warned that Israelis will begin to experience sporadic water supply to their homes.
So while you're praying for the peace of Jerusalem, please pray for rain as well! We're drinking liters and liters of it - in this climate, fresh drinking water is an absolute necessity. Oh, that does remind me of a story from today...
For some unknown reason, the bus that is to pick us up from the dig site everyday was half an hour late today. It was HOT and there was no shade. It was so hot that my water in my bottle was literally warm enough to make tea in...not very refreshing when you're baking in the sun!
This girl from the international team (not one of our Lutheran group) comes up to me and asks for some water. I was a little distracted by what she was wearing - a skimpy red crop top and about the shortest shorts I've ever seen - that it took me a minute to respond and by that point she was impatiently demanding to know if I spoke English.
I reached for the water bottle hanging from my backpack and asked her where her water bottle was (meaning to pour some of my water into her bottle) as it clearly wasn't concealed on her person! She replied with "I don't have a water bottle. I'm Russian". This has to be the most memorable non sequiter I've ever heard, but I kept reaching for my bottle. I didn't really want to have some stranger drink my water, but I figured I could wash it later. Thankfully someone from her team saw my deilema and gave her their disposable water bottle.
Anyway, the Russian girl went on to say that "We're Russian, and we can't deal with this heat. Our winters get down to -30, you know." Unfortuantly for her, she was talking to a group of Canadians, so she didn't get much sympathy! I couldn't believe it though - to go up on the hill for a full day of digging without a water bottle. We're supposed to drink 2 liters inside of three hours, and then they come around with jugs to refill our bottles from. I haven't been drinking quite that much, but pretty close as I have no desire to die from heat stroke. Sometimes I really wonder about people...hopefully she's not sick tomorrow!!!