2. Mountain Aquifer - Key Water Reservoir

Israel's Freshwater Lake Kinneret Lakeake                                                          The Shomron Mountain Aquifer
 The Shomron's Mountain Aquifer provides at least as much water as the Kinneret!

The severe water shortage crisis in Israel over the last decade has made watching the fluctuating (mostly receding) water level of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) something of a fixation. First, there's the Upper Red Line (208.8 meters below sea level), the point where the lake is so full that dams must be opened to drain off the surplus into the Jordan River and prevent local flooding. That line hasn't been touched for over ten years. Then there's the Lower Red Line (-213 meters), the point where, due to the chronic lack of water, further pumping begins to harm water quality. Finally, there's the dreaded  Black Line (-214.87 meters), the point where permanent damage to the lake will begin and beyond which pumping cannot happen because the pumping machines can no longer operate. The specter of reaching the Black Line, not an unlikely scenario, haunts Israelis and government officials.

While Israelis nervously monitor the Kinneret water line, anxious over the waning summer levels and relieved by the waxing levels in the winter, most of them remain blissfully ignorant of that huge freshwater reservoir lying right under their feet - the Mountain Aquifer.

The Western Mountain (Yarkon-Taninim) Aquifer

Aquifers are natural water-bearing geologic formations, which because of their porous structure and occurrence beneath more solid rock formations are able, not just to absorb water, but to hold it for long periods of time. The Mountain Aquifer is Israel's largest and most significant source of fresh water. It consists of three sub-aquifers, which together supply about 600 million cubic meters of very high quality drinking water, equivalent to roughly one third of the yearly water consumption in Israel. Of particular importance is the Western Mountain (Yarkon-Taninim) Aquifer, which is fed by rain falling on the western slopes of the Judean and Samarian mountains. The water percolates through porous surface rock into the aquifer far below the surface, and then naturally flows downwards toward the Israeli coastline. Prevented from actually reaching the coast by natural hydrologic barriers, the water instead emerges in natural springs which are almost entirely in Israel proper. The Western Mountain Aquifer supplies about 350 million cubic meters of high quality drinking water to the heavily populated coastal plain, which can no longer rely on the over-pumped coastal aquifer as it has become depleted and polluted.

Without the Western Mountain Aquifer, Gush Dan and the Central Israel go thirsty.
Whoever controls Samaria also controls much of Israel's vital fresh water sources.

"It is the rain falling on the West Bank that recharges the aquifer; any new wells drilled between the recharge area and the Israeli taps could cut off supply and, by lowering the water tables in the part of the aquifer that extends to the west of the Green Line, allow saline water from greater depths to seep in, permanently ruining what is left”         -- US News and World Report, 16.12.91

A withdrawal from Samaria would put Israel's water supply at risk. The hydro-strategic importance of Samaria is reflected in a 1990 State Comptroller's report: "The Mountain Aquifer which extends … from the slopes of Carmel to Beer Sheva and from the ridges of Samaria and Judea to the coastal plain, constitutes the principal source of drinking water in the country…"
(Report on the Management of the Water System, Government Press Office: Jerusalem).

Also, a 1991 report commissioned from the TAHAL Water Engineering Company cautioned that "Israeli control over most of the water resources must be retained to prevent an increase in the extraction of ground water in Judea & Samaria at the expense of Israeli use of Yarkon Taninim Aquifer", that abandoning Samaria would "constitute a grave threat to the main water supplies of Israel" and that "even when desalination attains considerable dimensions, the importance of the Yarkon Taninim Aquifer, which will serve as  seasonal and long-term reservoir, will not decrease." 
(p. 105, Water in the Middle East: Solutions to Water Problems in the Context of Arrangements between Israel and the Arabs, Schwartz, Yehoshua and Zohar: Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies).

One need not be a trained hydrologist to comprehend the significance of all this. A withdrawal from the Shomron would create a very tangible threat to Israel's water system. Were Arab over-pumping, uncontrolled sewage and industrial waste flow and/or deliberate acts of water sabotage to occur on the western slopes of Samaria, it would cause serious, and most probably irreversible, damage to the key source of drinking water for Israel's major urban centers and environs. Can Israel really afford to trust her most valuable and irreplaceable national resource in the hands of those who have had a long history of trying to destroy the Jewish State?

For a more detailed explanation, read "What retreat from the territories means for Israel's water supply" by clicking here.