Jordan appeals for world's help to save Dead Sea
Jordan appealed Tuesday for international assistance to help save the ecosystem of the Dead Sea, whose water level is dropping.
The surface level of the sea - the saltiest water in the world and the lowest point on earth - has fallen 1 meter (3.3 feet) a year for at least the past 20 years because of evaporation and the diversion of rivers by Syria and Israel.
Experts warn the Dead Sea will disappear in 50 years if current trends persist.
One solution would be for Jordan and Israel to draw water from the Red Sea, which lies at the end of the long valley in which the Dead Sea lies. The two countries have agreed on the plan, but they are waiting for funding approval from the World Bank and other donor countries.
"We appeal to water experts attending this conference to help us explain the crisis of the Dead Sea at international forums," Jordanian Water and Irrigation Minister Hazem al-Nasser said Tuesday. He was speaking on the sidelines of a five-day meeting on water held at the Dead Sea resort of Southern Shuneh, 45 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of the capital, Amman.
"The Dead Sea is a unique international treasure, and it's the world's responsibility to take decisive action immediately to save this treasure," al-Nasser said.
He said the receding of the sea will have negative consequences, such as the formation of sink holes, 20 meters (66 feet) in depth.
The conference brought together some 1,500 experts and officials from 30 countries to discuss the management of water.
Al-Nasser said Israel had presented Jordan with a draft plan that envisages drawing water from the Red Sea through a canal to be built along the Jordanian-Israeli border.
The project, which is expected to cost more than US$1 billion, would exploit the 400-meter (1,320-foot) difference in altitude between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea.
Associated Press Jun. 1, 2004
About 20 years ago there was the proposed "Med-Dead" Canal, which would have replenished the Dead Sea, and because of the difference in height between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, would have generated lots and lots of electricity for Israel by way of strategically placed dams in the Negev. There was also some talk of desalinating water en route, to be used for irrigation. Quite a bit of money was raised, as I remember, before it was abandoned as impractical. Israelis were urged by the government to invest in the scheme, as well as trying to find wealthy overseas investors. Now we're going to import the Red Sea into the Dead Sea? Frankly, I liked the original idea better. The only thing going for this revised plan to save the Dead Sea is that Israel might not have to pay for it. But don't bet on it. (Don't bet on it actually happening, either)