Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Red-Dead water conveyer can avoid a dead end

Batir Wardam in After a delay of more than six months, the World Bank has finally released the final drafts of the feasibility and environmental assessment studies for the controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, designed to channel some 1.2 billion cubic metres of water 180 kilometres from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

The plan is to pump sea water from the Red Sea, pass it through a series of desalination plants, use the desalinated water for drinking, and discharge the brine to the Dead Sea, which should help restore it to its 20th century levels and prevent it from vanishing like the Aral Sea. Although the studies recommend going ahead with the project they raise more questions than they answer, casting a shadow of uncertainty over its future.

The project was proposed in 2002 to save the Dead Sea from collapse, to quench the region's thirst by providing 850 million cubic metres of drinking water per year, and as an example of peaceful cooperation in the tense Middle East region.

But it has drawn polarised reactions. Critics warn that mixing the water from the Red Sea with the Dead Sea will have negative environmental consequences and use up energy that is already scarce and getting more expensive…

The Dead Sea from the Jordan coast, shot by Bernard Gagnon, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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