Artist Sigalit Landau swims naked amongst watermelons in Dead Sea to dramatize its plight.
The Dead Sea is situated at the lowest point on earth and has been the subject a number of projects aimed at reversing the salt lake’s declining water levels. These projects include the controversial Red – Dead Sea Conduit Project, which is being fought against by environmentalists. Another idea, and one that makes much betters sense from an ecological viewpoint, is the one involving the restoration of at least a part of the natural flow of the Lower Jordan River, which has been reduced to not more than a trickle.
But the lack of sufficient water in the entire Dead Sea has now taken a back seat to an even more pressing problem: the one of rising waters in the southern portion of the lake, near many of the hotels and health spas in the Ein Bokek area which are in danger of sinking.
These tourists may soon be floating in hotel lobbies.
This problem, which has been ongoing for the past few years, threatens to flood some of Israel’s most popular (and lucrative) tourism and health spa resorts due to the water rising from too much salt accumulation.
To deal with this problem, responsibility was first hurled at the industrial mining companies such as the Dead Sea Works, and Israel Chemicals Ltd, whose extraction of the Dead Sea’s valuable minerals has been blamed as on of the primary causes of the salt accumulations as well as overall decreasing lake water levels.
It was reported recently in Globes that Israel Chemicals refuses to accept responsibility for paying the expense of removing the salt accumulation, now estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $760 million. The Israeli government is now trying to commit itself to paying at least part of the costs of this project, which is now estimated to cost between NIS 5 – 7 Billion or $ 1.5 – 2 billion USD.
The urgency of this new “water crisis” that threatens to literally flood many shoreline hotels and spas within the next few years has resulted in a number of private fund raising projects, including a recent one by controversial “naked people artist” Spencer Tunick, who wants to create a giant photographic exhibit of naked people floating on the Dead Sea’s buoyant waters.
Naked in Amsterdam: also soon at Dead Sea?
But whether the work that is needed to be done is covered either by the Government, by private donors, or by both, the longer the actual work is delayed, the more urgent the problem will become.
Trying to either move the tourism infrastructures back a few hundred meters, or tearing them down and rebuilding them entirely will only delay the inevitable; and so far, only words have been spoken and not the actual work.
Meanwhile, the water levels near Ein Bokek continue to rise, and the floating there will soon be much more serious than floating bodies or watermelons.
More reading on the Dead Sea:
Strip Naked for the Dead Sea and Spencer Tunick
Irony at the Dead Sea: Too Much Water in Southern Portion
Float for the Dead Sea This Thursday
Environmentalist say No No to Red Dead Sea Canal Project