It was a source of national pride – technology and discipline besting a crippling lack of water. But four years of drought have overtaxed Israel’s unmatched array of desalination and wastewater treatment plants, choking its most fertile regions and catching the government off-guard.  “No one imagined we would face a sequence of arid years like this, because it never happened before,” said Uri Schor, spokesman for Israel’s Water Authority. The Sea of Galilee, technically a lake near the border with Syria,

is forecast to hit its lowest level ever before winter rains come, despite the fact that pumping there was massively reduced. Underground aquifers, the other main freshwater source, are nearing levels that will turn them salty. How to cope with the crisis is becoming an increasingly touchy subject in Israel. Proposed cuts to water use for the coming year, more than 50 percent in some areas, prompted vehement opposition from farmers, who already face tough restrictions and would have been the hardest hit. The government quickly backtracked. READ MORE