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3/22/2008

Water shortage looms in Israel after prolonged drought

Israel

JERUSALEM: Israel is suffering its greatest drought in the past decade and will have to stop pumping from one of its main drinking water sources by the end of the summer, an official said Wednesday.

Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor said when Israel has to stop pumping from the Sea of Galilee — the source of about 40 percent of its drinking water — it will have to step up extraction from already-depleted aquifers, underground water-bearing seams of rock.

"The situation is very, very bad," Schor said. "As we pump more from the aquifers, the quality of the water will go down."

Israel's water problem stems from population growth and an improvement in quality of life that brings a greater desire to water lawns and gardens, Schor said. This winter was the fourth that Israel got less than average rain, with only about 50-60 percent of the average in most areas, he said.

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YEMEN sleepwalking into water nightmare - Yemen's water and environment minister describes a collapse of national water resources so severe it cannot be reversed, only delayed at best. "This is almost inevitable because of the geography and climate of Yemen, coupled with uncontrolled population growth and very low capacity for managing resources." Yemen relies on groundwater, which nature cannot recharge fast enough to keep pace with a population of 22.4 million expanding by more than 3 percent a year. "Amran and Sanaa are probably very close to collapse. Saada in the far north may be next in line. Further south, the basin in Taiz collapsed almost 10 years ago and people have been relying on renewable resources," meaning fresh rainfall as opposed to water stored in the ground. "The deepest wells in Sanaa are now 1,000 metres - you need an oil drilling rig to get that deep - and water levels are dropping 6 to 12 to 20 metres a year." Yemen's water shortage is one of the greatest worldwide, and groundwater reservoirs have been polluted and over-exploited for more than two decades. Yemen was previously envied for its rainfall, terraced fields and irrigation channels.
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