|Water supply and distribution |
60 percent of Israel is desert with only 20 percent of the land used for agriculture. Within Israel, there is a north-south gap in rainfall. While more than 1,000mm falls on the border with Lebanon, less than 100mm falls on the Sinai Peninsula. Approximately 75 percent of rain falls during the months from November to March, with a variation of over 50 percent. The coastal plains and the valley floors of river valleys, with their deep alluvial soils, and small relief differences are the most favorable conditions for agriculture. In contrast, the mountains, especially east of Jordan, are at a disadvantage.
Israel meets the demand of its own water consumption with 53 percent coming from ground water and 36 percent from surface waters, mainly from the Sea of Galilee. The remaining 11 percent comes from purified water and the over-exploitation of ground water resources, which means that this water may exceed the level of what is often formed again. The largest groundwater resources are below the West Bank. Approximately two thirds of the water is consumed by agriculture.
Citrus fruits are grown on irrigated land as well as other fruit crops, vegetables, cereals, cotton, peanuts and flowers (pot plants), mainly for export. In addition, grain, wine, olives and fruit are also produced in non-irrigated areas. The coastal plain is the most intensively farmed region. The draining of broad areas of agricultural land and irrigation has greatly increased since the Israeli state was founded in 1948. Additional water resources are tapped from the Sea of Galilee and the ground water. Hence, seawater infiltrates from the Mediterranean Sea. In predominantly Arab populated areas of the West Bank, cultivation is only in valleys and on terraced slopes.
The poor rainfall in the dry Jordan Valley region is used for the widespread agricultural land in the western part of the north (on the border with Lebanon) and midlands (below the Sea of Galilee). The importance of the River Jordan and its tributaries as a major water supplier in the region is particularly evident here. On the east side of Jordan, an irrigation system has been built, which is based on a parallel to the Jordan East Ghor Canal. In the southern Jordan Valley and on the shores of the Dead Sea, only selective land use in oases occur.
The steppes and deserts of the Negev in the north (Gaza) are be used for surface agriculture. The rainfall (250400 mm) ranges only in connection with adducted water used for cultivation the north of Israel.
A few figures show that a severity in water supply is already in evidence. More than half of the water consumed by Israel comes from the regions which have been occupied since 1967. Israel controls the sources of Baniyas on the Golan Heights, almost one quarter of the inflow which is contributed from the lake of Galilee and the lower reaches of the Yarmuk. In the West Bank, Israel is using the largest ground-water resources in the region near Nablus. An inhospitable peace settlement makes the regulation of water seem impossible. In addition to the implemented transition of water into Jordan, the Mediterranean-Negev channel (imports of Nile water) and water imported by ship from Turkey, as a safe alternative water supply has also been discussed. This could contribute to improved retention of winter precipitation, a recycling of industrial water, desalinisation and economical water use.
M. Felsch, E. Astor; Ü: Colette Fleming
Keywords: brackish water dam drainage Egypt evaporation fresh water groundwater irrigation irrigation; canal Israel Jordan land improvement Lebanon long-distance long-distance transport of water precipitation reservoir river salt water Syria water water management West Bank
View the map frame in Google Earth. open
Map frame in Google Maps
View the map frame in Google Maps. open