Jordan Opposed to Dead-Med Project, Says Activist

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Ein Gedi Beach at the Dead Sea, on February 12, 2016.. Photo by Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90
The Ein Gedi Beach at the Dead Sea. (Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

The Dead-Med canal project is back on the table, but green groups are determined to make sure it never comes about – and they have an ally in Jordan, which must approve the project, according to Gideon Bromberg, chairman of the Ecopeace organization. “Jordan will not allow the project to go through, and will see it as a violation of agreements with Israel,” he told business daily Globes.

“The project will damage Israel’s freshwater supply as well as the balance of minerals and salts in the Dead Sea, which could have dramatic changes on the local ecosystem. The Dead Sea’s main source of water has been the fresh water flowing from the Jordan River, and primping it with salt water from the Mediterranean will have untold consequences.”

The new project, for which the government has formed a committee to examine turning it into reality, is essentially the same one that was proposed some 80 years ago. The Dead Sea is located at the lowest point on earth, and a canal running from the Mediterranean through relatively flat areas of the Negev could help boost the supply of water in the constantly shrinking Dead Sea. On its way, the water would flow through an underground hydroelectric plant, generating up to 1,500 megawatts of power.

To get there, of course, the water would have to pass through over 100 kilometers of land, both above and below ground – and that is too risky, said Bromberg. “The coastal aquifer and mountain aquifer are two of Israel’s most important water sources. The underground tunnels that the Mediterranean water is planned to go through could leak, causing possible major damage to the freshwater aquifers that Israelis rely on for drinking water and agriculture.”

According to Bromberg, previous attempts to build a Med-Dead canal have failed because of the engineering challenges – and the determination that in the end, the benefits were not worth the risk. The current proposal – similar to another canal deal, signed by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority – will meet the same fate. “At least in that case the power plant was to produce just 50 mw of power.” It’s unlikely that Jordan and the PA will agree to approve the new proposal before the project they agreed to, and “without the agreement of Jordan and the PA, international investors are very unlikely to back the project,” Bromberg added.