In a move that will have environmentalists and government officials in Israel reeling, the Jordanian government announced this week that it will go ahead with the controversial Dead Sea-Red Sea Canal from Aqaba in the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in central Jordan.
The announcement for the $10 billion project (some reports say $5 billion) was made this week at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East in Jordan, and reported by the Jordan Times, the Times in the UK, the Boston Herald, and Haaretz in Israel. It will take 20 years to finish, while Jordan hopes to start producing desalinated water by 2014.
According to the Jordanian plan, the Jordanian version of the Dead Sea-Red Sea canal will channel 1.9 billion cubic meters of water per day from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, reports Haaretz:
“The difference in altitude will enable the production of energy, which in turn will fuel huge desalination plants to be constructed in Jordan. The 850 million cubic meters of desalinated water produced annually will be used for agriculture and urban water systems. The idea of a regional joint project was raised more than a decade ago, but petered out after the feasibility studies were conducted.”
While alarming to hear, it is likely that in order to proceed, Jordan may require thumbs up from bodies such as the World Bank and the United Nations. It may be Jordan’s way of saying, yalla. Israel has been interested in helping Jordan develop the canal but has been waffling over its committment to the idea proposed a decade ago. Environmentalists in Israel believe such a plan will create a whole new host of problems, like sinkholes, and deterioration of the already threatened corals in the Red Sea.
Others believe this canal will kill two birds with one stone: it will help create energy for Jordan while replenishing the dying Dead Sea.
Calling it the Jordan National Red Sea Water Development Project, officials said the desalination project is separate from the Red-Dead Canal (project with Israel) and is supported by the government.
The Boston Herald also has a good sum up of Jordan’s recent announcement.
“The project is Jordanian and will be built on Jordanian land… The World Bank environmental and feasibility studies of the Red-Dead Canal Project are vital for our scheme,” said the Ministry of Water and Irrigation Secretary General Maysoun Zu’bi to press.
The Boston Herald adds that the canal “is not a replacement for the Red-Dead Canal Project.”
So if it’s not, then will there be 2 canals?
This is a prime example of what can and might happen if governments who share precious resources do not work together to create a long term sustainable vision. Personally, I am against the Dead Sea – Red Sea canal. I think it will create new environmental tragedies, and turn the region between these bodies into a Disneyland theme park, much like what we see today in Dubai.
The Dead Sea is one of the most beautiful natural resources in the world. We need to leave it alone, people, as nature intended. See how Canada manages Lake Louise. This is a perfect example of how to turn a natural wonder into something that still looks wonderful.