The Kinneret, The Sea of Galilee – is Israel’s most important water source and one of its main tourist areas. About a quarter of the country’s drinking water is pumped from it. The water level of the lake is a subject of national interest. There are constant media reports on the level of the water – in winter after the rains and during the summer during the droughts. The average altitude is 210 meters below sea level, making it the lowest sweet water source in the world.
The Kinneret has an upper “red line” requiring the opening of the Degania Dam in order to prevent overflow and a bottom red line which requires the stopping of pumping in order to prevent excessive drying. Over the years the lower red line has been constantly lowered and today the Kinneret is almost always below the lower line. A new black line was therefore set with its height at -214 meters below sea level. The surface of the lake is about 168 square kilometers and has a maximum depth of approximately 44 m.
The average annual amount of water entering the lake is estimated at 870 million cubic meters. Out of this approximately 270 evaporates, 430 is pumped to the National Water Carrier, 120 is used for local consumption or transferred to the Kingdom of Jordan under international agreement and only 70 flows to the Jordan River through the Degania Dam.
The most rainy season on record for the Kinneret was during 1968-69 winter, during which the amount of water was nearly twice the average – 1,538 million cubic meters.
The common perception is that the source of the name comes from the shape of the lake which is very similar to an harp, the biblical violin. But this is not likely since the name is very old and there were no maps of the sea during these periods.
The name appears in last week’s Parasha, as part of the boundaries of the land: “and the border shall go down, and shall strike upon the slope of the sea of Kinneret eastward”