Representatives of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority met last week to study ways to undertake a project known as the “Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program, according to Globes.
The meeting, hosted by Jordan, was headed by representatives of the World Bank, with the purpose of forming a committee to study ways in which the project of constructing a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in order to supply much needed fresh water from desalination as well as replenish the rapidly diminishing Dead Sea water levels.
The Technical Steering Committee will study the options for undertaking the construction project, which would be done in stages.
The feasibility of mixing Red Sea and Dead Sea water will also be studied, as this issue has been one of the problems of such a project which some environmentalists fear will damage the sensitive regional environment.
Financing of such a project that would be handled through the World Bank, will depend on the outcome of these studies, and the total commitment that everyone will have to undertake such a project.
But isn’t this the same old song and dance we’ve been hearing about in the last 5 or 6 years? Earlier this year Jordan, we reported earlier, said they’d go it alone; later Israel said the World Bank had given them clearance and didn’t mention the Jordan partner. Isn’t this story becoming a bit like kids in a sandbox?
The idea of building such a canal has been mentioned previously in a number of articles, including several on Green Prophet, such as one in which Jordan proposed to launch the building of the Red-Dead Sea Canal without Israel.
Another GP article dealt with the World Bank agreeing to finance a $1.25 billion feasibility study for building the canal, which could even be a 180 km pipeline to convey the Red Sea water to the Dead Sea. This announcement, made by Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, was denounced by both Jordan and the PA, saying that at that time, the World Bank had not yet an actual commitment to finance the project.
The new re-commitment by Israel, Jordan, and the PA, with the aid of the World Bank, may help give this project the right “push” it needs to get going – if that is the best solution for not only saving the Dead Sea, but result in fresh water from desalination and possibly electricity generated from the water pressure of the water coming from the Red Sea.
The project is not without a number of objecting parties, however, including environmental groups like Friends of the Earth Middle East, a regional environmental group which claims that the Red-Dead canal project is being planned primarily for financial reasons, with little regard for its affect on the environment; particularly that of the Arava desert region through which the water from the Red Sea will flow.
Although the Dead Sea is currently drying up at the alarming rate of 1 meter per year, due to the Jordan River (the salt lake’s primary water source) being reduced to little more than a trickle, environmentalists feel the mixing the water of the Red Sea with that of the Dead Sea will do more harm then good, and upset a fragile ecological balance that has been in existence there for thousands of years. F
or this reason alone, a thorough study needs to be conducted before the project is allowed to commence.
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