From: Associated Press
Published July 7, 2005 12:00 AM

Donor Countries Agree to Finance a Feasibility Study to Save the Shrinking Dead Sea

AMMAN, Jordan — Donor countries have agreed to finance a feasibility study for a proposal to save the shrinking Dead Sea by feeding it with water through a canal from the Red Sea, the World Bank informed the sea's neighbors Thursday, according to a Jordanian official.


The surface level of the Dead Sea -- the saltiest water in the world at 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 allegedly the diversion of rivers by Syria and Israel.


Geological experts have warned the Dead Sea could disappear in 50 years if current trends persist.


The World Bank informed Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority that it will begin gathering the funds for a feasibility stude, which will focus on the environmental and social consequences on transferring the water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, said Adnan al-Zu'bi, a spokesman for the Jordanian ministry of water and irrigation said Thursday.


The Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians agreed in May to go ahead with the US$ 15 million (euro 12.58 million) feasibility study, which is expected to be finished by 2008. Delegations from the three met in Paris with donor representatives from Europe, Japan and the United States on Tuesday.


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The Red-Dead Sea canal project, which is expected to cost more than US$1 billion (euro 838 million), would exploit the 400-meter (1,320-foot) difference in altitude between both areas.


If implemented, the 300-kilometer (248-mile) desert area between the two seas would benefit from the fresh water to turn the region into an agricultural hub for the benefit of the three countries. A desalination project is also envisaged to provide drinking water for the Jordanian capital, Amman. Israel and the Palestinian territories would also benefit from the drinking water.


Source: Associated Press


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