Drought is a normal feature of climate, but also one of the most common and severe of natural disasters. In most world regions the economic damages caused by droughts are greater than those caused by any other events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. World-wide population growth has intensified the pressure on water resources and increased the vulnerability to drought. Prolonged drought cycles are a major factor in land degradation processes and affect extensive geographical areas. While such a natural hazard may strike any climatic region, its occurrence is more frequent in arid and semiarid regions. According to long term rain measurements, Israel with its Mediterranean climate, has experienced three consecutive dry years for every 50 years period. The recent drought of 1998–2001 in northern Israel was the most extreme during the last 130 years. It affected the water flow of the Jordan River and brought the level of Lake Kinneret to its lowest point in historical periods. Changes in land-use, water pumping and flow diversion, have exacerbated the negative impact of droughts and caused land degradation, such as the drying of wetlands and salinization of freshwater aquifers. The increased use of urban treated waste water for irrigation, with its significantly higher salt content, is another cause of soil degradation, and has a major economic impact on irrigated farming schemes. Wetlands and aquatic environments around Lake Kinneret and other regions of the country, were practically dry for six consecutive years, affecting fish-breeding and endemic aquatic species. Various solutions have been applied: drip irrigation, recycling of wastewater, reduced allocations and increased pricing of water supplies, desalinization plants, etc. However, the failure by successive governments to introduce drought contingency planning and sustainable management of water resources, has already damaged agriculture and nature conservation. The imminent dangers of drought are liable to lead to a major crisis in the country’s water resources and affect all sectors of society.
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© 2007, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Engineering
- Information Systems