The Real Jordan River Will Flow from the Sea of Galilee Once Again

The Lower Jordan River, the baptismal river of Jesus, has been dead at its source for some time. For the first time in ages, Israel is releasing native waters via a pump back to the historic waterway.

Christian pilgrims to Israel may be thrilled to have a chance to bathe in the historic Jordan River, believed to be the original baptismal river of Jesus. It’s clean, safe and totally free.

Pilgrims arrive to the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee (where mysterious objects are still being found) at Yardanit, get off the bus and within a few hundred yards are themselves in the river in white robes.

I can understand the appeal but was put off by the whole idea that these pilgrims aren’t really baptizing in a river, but a standing pool created for tourism. The real river actually starts as a sewage pump outlet further downstream.

A series of dams on the Sea of Galilee block water from flowing to the River Jordan. The story is really sad. What ends up in the real “river” is effluent and all types of waste, and those brave souls who disregard the warning and dip into the water on the Jordan side far downstream are taking their lives into their hands.

By the time this wastewater flows down to its final destination it is merely a trickle of sewage, if it reaches the end at all.

This is what I learned a few years ago while on a Jordan River tour with the eco group Friends of the Earth Middle East. (That’s me above checking out the sewage pipe at the Jordan River’s source).

Local newspapers are now reporting that the Israeli Government along with various interest groups have decided to turn on a pump from the Sea of Galilee to restore the Jordan River’s native habitat. Some 1000 cubic meters of water will be pumped into the river every hour.

Recharging the Jordan River is a great idea our friends at Friends of the Earth maintain, but much more water will be necessary to bring it up to healthy levels, they assess.

They say that some 30 million cubic meters a year will not be enough to renew the Lower Jordan River. Something magnitudes bigger, 400 and 600 cubic meters would be needed for restoration, and Israel should allot 220 million cubic meters to do its part. It should be noted that the Jordan River is shared between three major stakeholders: Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. Peace making over a river important to all people is a very easy way to start real peace efforts on the ground.

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