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In 2004, water consumption amounted to 1.95 km3, almost identical to 2000 and 11 percent more than in 1986 (1.76 km3). Agriculture accounted for 58 percent whereas it was 64 and 71 percent in 1993 and in 1983, respectively. Municipal use accounted for 36 percent and industrial purposes for 6 percent (Table 4, Table 5 and Figure 1). Primary suerface water and primary groundwater withdrawal amounted to almost 80 percent of the total withdrawals (Figure 2).
Successive years of drought have dramatically lowered water levels in all of the main reservoirs. In fact, 1998/99 was the worst drought year in Israel for the past 100 years. The following years were also characterized by less than average rainfall which led to a shortfall of some 0.5 million m3 in Israel’s water balance each year, in comparison to an average year. The winters of 2002/03 and 2003/04 were characterized by average and higher than average rainfall which led to a significant rise in the water level of Lake Tiberias and in the collection of floodwater in catchment reservoirs. However, the country’s aquifers have remained depleted. It is estimated that increased water demand and decreased water availability has led to a cumulative deficit of nearly 2 000 million m3.
The National Water Carrier of Israel (in Hebrew commonly called HaMovil) is the main water project of Israel. Its main task is to transfer water from the rainy north of the country to the centre and arid south and to enable efficient use of water and regulation of water supply in the country. Most of the water works in Israel are combined with the National Water Carrier, the length of which is about 130 kilometers. Early plans were made before the establishment of the state of Israel but detailed planning started only after Israel's independence in 1948. The construction of the project started during the planning phase, long before the detailed final plan was completed and signed in 1956. The carrier consists of a system of aqueducts, tunnels, reservoirs and large-scale pumping stations. Building the carrier was a considerable technical challenge as it traverses a wide variety of terrains and elevations.