World’s Lowest Freshwater Lake Reaches Highest Levels In 20 Years

Date: 2020-04-30 13:57:13

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High tides, but visitor numbers are rock bottom.

The Sea of Galilee – the lowest freshwater lake on Earth – is enjoying water levels not seen in over 20 years.

“It’s filled with water and we are very excited,” says Idan Greenbaum, chairman of Joran Valley Regional Council and head of Kinneret Urban Union.

“Unfortunately, because of the virus, it’s empty. And it’s this time of the year we expect it to be filled with many tourists, with many Israelis, everybody comes to have fun in this beautiful, beautiful lake.”

Years of drought previously sent water levels plummeting. But now, tiny islands that emerged in the lake have now disappeared. Dried vegetation that once covered the waterfront is now submerged.

In April 2017, water levels were -212.95 meters (below sea level), five centimeters above the lake’s lowest recorded level. Now, the water levels are -208.92.

The freshwater lake measures an average of 12 kilometers at its widest point and 21 kilometers at its longest.

While water levels rise on the Sea of Galilee, tourism operators are experiencing a sharp drop, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Without Christian pilgrims visiting from around the world, the destination is facing struggles. But Haim Statyahu, general manager at Ein Gev tourism, is optimistic.

“In March, we were at the peak of the pilgrimage tourism, and it completely dropped, but we see light at the end of the tunnel,” he says.

“People say that actually the level of the Sea of Galilee goes directly with the mood in Israel. When it’s high, everybody smiles and (are) very happy,” says Greenbaum.

Israel imposed sweeping restrictions on movement and ordered most businesses to close in mid-March.It has recently begun easing those restrictions as the rate of new infections appears to have stabilized.

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