The lake where Christians believe Jesus walked on water has declined to its lowest level in a hundred years, an Israeli official said Tuesday.
The Sea of Galilee, which is actually a lake, has suffered from four consecutive years of rain shortages, Amir Givati of Israel's Water Authority told military radio.
"The situation is serious," he said. "The lake has fallen to its lowest level for a century." The level is 20 centimetres below what experts consider acceptable, the so-called "red line," he added.
The "regional drought affects the whole of the Middle East," Givati added.
The shortage of rainfall is affecting agriculture, the environment and animal life in the nearby area, he added.
The rest of Israel is spared from shortages thanks to five seawater desalination plants built along the Mediterranean coast.
They pump water through a pipeline system to homes throughout the country except for an area in northern Israel that is supposed to be supplied by the Sea of Galilee.
"A project to supply this entire part of northern Israel is under consideration. It is a challenge for the years to come," Givati added.
Three-quarters of the drinking water consumed by Israeli households comes from these desalination plants.
The Sea of Galilee covers roughly 160 square kilometres (62 square miles) and is located 200 metres (656 feet) below sea level.
It is also an important Christian and Jewish pilgrimage site.
Christians believe the lake to be the site of a number of Jesus's miracles, including walking on water.