Jordan and Israel renew Dead Sea preservation initiative
The Jordanian government has expressed interest in reactivating cooperation with Israel for preserving the Dead Sea. Although the majority of regional projects have been frozen as a result of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Jordanian authorities have suggested the joint construction of an $800 million canal along the nations’ border, reported Jordan Times.
The canal would cut the Wadi Araba from north to south, carrying water to the Dead Sea. It would also make use of the 400-meter altitude difference between the Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea for water desalinization for the Kingdom.
Israeli authorities have suggested that a pipeline would be a cheaper option, insisting that while the construction of a canal could cost up to $1.5 billion, a pipeline could be completed for $700 million. A canal could provide both nations with seven kilometers of shoreline. As the altitude in Wadi Araba increases to 250 meters above sea level, an underground pipeline could be built to pump water northwards to the Dead Sea.
In the last 40 years, the water level of the Dead Sea has dropped by more than 262 feet, mostly because 90 percent of the rivers that feed the water body are being diverted to farmland, hydroelectric projects and cities.
A project to restock the depleting basin with water from the Red Sea has been a topic of discussion since the seventies, but action has not gone beyond a 1997 World Bank pre-feasibility study. The 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan stipulated that both countries should cooperate on some sort of canal project.
Israel did consider building a canal from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea in the 1980’s, in hopes of generating hydroelectric power as the water plunged downhill. But like many plans involving desalinization, this one was ultimately shelved because it was deemed too expensive.
The Dead Sea is 50-miles long and 11-miles wide and sits between Israel and Jordan. It is the lowest body of water on Earth, nearly one-quarter mile below sea level. Water from the Jordan River flows in, but because the sea is lower than the land around it, no water can drain out. The desert sun evaporates the water about as fast as it flows in from the river, leaving behind salt and other minerals. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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