Home > News > Dead Sea to be linked to Red Sea by 112-mile underground pipe
11 December, 2013
By SARAH GRIFFITHS Daily Mail 10 December 2013
An ‘historic agreement’ designed to save the Dead Sea has been signed to link its dwindling body of water with the Red Sea using a 112 mile (180km) pipeline.
The deal, named the Red-Dead Conduit, has been considered for years, but has finally been signed by The Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Israel at the World Bank in Washington.
The massive infrastructure project will see 200million cubic metres of water pumped from a desalination plant every year, which would be located at the mouth of the Red Sea in Jordan.
While some of the water is set to be shared between Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, brine will be pumped to the Dead Sea in a bid to stop it drying up.
Water levels in the Dead Sea, which straddles Israel and Jordan, have fallen by 82 feet over 50 years and experts have predicted that it could dry up completely by 2050 if action is not taken.
The agreement brings a long-awaited Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline one step closer to completion.
The idea of linking the two bodies of water has existed for more than a century and in modern times, the deal aims to set up a water sharing scheme between the three nations, as well as preserve the popular tourist destination.
Israel’s energy and regional development minister, Silvan Shalom, said the deal came about due to ‘strategic cooperation of diplomatic significance between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.’
He told Israeli Radio: ‘This is a breakthrough after many years of efforts. It is nothing less than a historic move,’ The Telegraph reported.
Under the plans, a desalination plant will be built in the southern Jordanian port of Aqaba on the Red Sea and will desalinate water to be shared by the neighbours.
The brine by-product will be sent north in the pipeline to the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea has been found to be receding at a rate of more than 3ft (one metre) every year.
Under the agreement, Israel plans to release more water from the Sea of Galilee – its largest reservoir – to Jordan, and sell desalinated water to the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinians have long complained about Israeli restrictions on constructing new water infrastructure, which they say exacerbate water shortages.
‘I am pleased that the long-term engagement of the World Bank has facilitated this next step by the three governments, which will enhance water availability and facilitate the development of new water through desalination,’ Inger Andersen, the World Bank’s Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.
The World Bank did not say how much the project would cost or who would pay for it, but according to the BBC, it could be in the region of between $250m and $400m (£152m and £244m).
The agreement was reached after the organisation determined in January that it is possible to use the Red Sea to replenish the shrinking Dead Sea after years of studying whether such a connecting lifeline could work.
The World Bank said the current phase of the agreement was designed to provide new water to a region critically short of it.
However, environmental groups have long warned of the adverse effects of a pipeline, such as the possibility of new algae and mineral-deposits changing the colour of the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea, technically a lake, is a tourist spot famous for its salty waters that allow bathers to float. Its mineral-rich mud, used for skin treatment, is sold around the world.
As the population has increased in the region, water has been diverted from the Jordan river, the Dead Sea’s natural water source, for drinking and agriculture.
The shoreline has shrunk at an accelerating pace, leaving behind a rocky, desert beach full of dangerous sink holes, which have been exasperated by factories extracting minerals from the lake.
The agreement includes a water trading arrangement, under which Israel will receive 30-50 million cubic metres of water to use in the resort city of Eilat and the Arava region.
Jordan will receive 30 million cubic metres of water for use in the south of the country and another 50 million from Israel’s Lake Kinneret, also known as the Sea of Galilee, bordering the Golan Heights.
The Palestinian Authority will also receive water from Lake Kinneret to improve supplies in the West Bank.
Friends of the Earth have accused Mr Shalom of ‘misleading the Israeli public’ by selling the pipeline project as a way of saving the Dead Sea.
‘What is being devised here is nothing to do with the Red-Dead Canal project but is a water exchange programme,’ Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East, told The Telegraph.
‘The link to the Dead Sea that’s being proposed here threatens the viability of the project from an environmental and economic perspective. It will bring foreign water into the Dead Sea that would upset its ecosystem, creating Gypum and quite probably algae.’
the Washington headquarters of the World Bank, which plans to help them implement the projects.