Red-Dead project pipeline is expected to be 180 kilometers long, pass through both Israeli & Jordanian territory, include a desalination plant producing 80 million cubes of potable water a year, and two hydro-power plants, beside preventing the Dead Sea from drying up.
Israel and Jordan are pushing forward with a plan to construct a water-carrying canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea with the hopes that it will help stop the Dead Sea from shrinking further.
The $800 million tender to build the canal, which the two governments also hope will help supply drinking water to Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians, was announced by Interior Minister Silvan Shalom and Jordanian Water Minister Hazim Nasser on Monday.
“Today we took an additional historic step to save the Dead Sea,” said Shalom in Jordan on Monday. “The joint international tender to be published tomorrow is proof of the cooperation between Israel and Jordan, and a response to those who cast doubt on whether the canal project would ever go ahead. This is an exceptional environmental and diplomatic achievement that testifies more than anything to the fertile cooperation between the [two] countries.”
The pipeline is expected to be 180 kilometers long and will pass through both Israeli and Jordanian territory with the ambition of eventually pumping two billion cubic meters of water per annum when the project is completed in the next four or five years.
The Dead Sea, the lowest and saltiest body of water in the world, is on course to dry out by 2050.
The degradation of the Dead Sea started in the 1960s when Israel, Jordan and Syria began to divert water from the Jordan River, the Dead Sea’s main supplier.
As part of the project, some of the water pumped from the Red Sea would enter the Dead Sea while the rest would be desalinated and shared with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinians are expected to obtain 30 million cubic meters of potable water annually thanks to the project.
Shalom, who is was also minister of regional cooperation at the time the project began, hailed the agreement as a landmark deal between Israel and Jordan, which signed a peace treaty in 1994.
Three years ago, Jordan’s water ministry said that the tiny kingdom, where 92 percent of the land is desert, would need 1.6 billion cubic meters of water a year to meet its requirements by 2015.
Water is an essential and rare resource for Jordan which has a population of around seven million and growing, as the country takes in refugees from the Syria war.
However, several environmental groups have warned that the project could undermine the fragile ecosystem of the Dead Sea, which they fear could be contaminated by water from the Red Sea.
(staff with AFP)
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