EcoPeace Middle East response to the newest updates of the “Red Sea Dead Sea Water Project Phase I”
December 1, 2015
The Israeli and Jordanian government-sponsored “Red Sea Dead Sea Water Project Phase I” has now moved one step forward. This project is not to be mistaken with the original mega Red Dead Canal project, which was studied by the World Bank. It is our continued duty in EcoPeace to bring to the attention of the public the advantages and disadvantages of this project, as well as misleading information being circulated.
There is no connection with this water project to the original grandiose “Red Dead Canal” project. That project involved the transfer of 2 billion cubic meters of water from Aqaba to the Dead Sea, with the construction of a desalination facility near the Dead Sea, and hydro-electric power generated by exploiting the difference in elevation – with this power to be used to produce about 800 million cubic meters of potable water. The World Bank concluded the project not feasible, both for economic reasons and for environmental reasons – due to the possible fear of negative environmental impacts on the Dead Sea.
In December 2013, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed an MoU to promote a pilot phase, that included a single pipe to carry 100 million cubic meters of brine from the Aqaba desalination plant to the Dead Sea. The tender published today is the first stage of its implementation.
EcoPeace Middle East, working out of offices in Amman, Tel Aviv and Bethlehem, has long been involved with efforts to raise awareness of the decline of the Dead Sea, offering alternate and sustainable solutions – that are less expensive and more realistic – to halt the Sea’s demise; namely, the partial rehabilitation of the Jordan River coupled with regulation of water use by the Mineral Industries.
Munqeth Mehyar, Jordanian Director of EcoPeace says that he “applauds the cooperation between Israeli and Jordanian authorities for a project on water exchange. Especially today, in the midst of the atmosphere in the region, the signing of this agreement is a breath of fresh air. However, this project will unfortunately, do very little to Save the Dead Sea.”
Israeli Director of EcoPeace, Gidon Bromberg says: “The slogan that they are acting to ‘Save the Dead Sea’ is a cover-up to government leadership that is needed to enact the necessary policy changes: to allow some water to flow down the River Jordan again, and to regulate the Dead Sea industry’s use of water.”
He continues, saying: “Linking the Aqaba desalination plant with a pipeline of brine to the Dead Sea does not deal with the source of the tragedy of the Dead Sea. The contribution of the brine at 100mcm goes nowhere towards stabilizing the Dead Sea.”
Nader Khateeb, EcoPeace Palestinian Director: “Although we didn’t support the larger Red Dead Canal project for environmental reasons to begin with, we have been completely sidelined today; it continues to ignore riparian rights of Palestinians on the Dead Sea and the Palestinians fair share of water allocation. We cannot support the advancement of this project.”
As EcoPeace has said before, our governments need to recognize that the “Red Dead Canal” project, whether it be Phase I, or otherwise, is not environmentally nor economically sound, and any attempt to connect the subject of the Dead Sea are only doing damage to other sensible projects of water exchange.