Red sea – Dead sea project
« The Canal of Peace »
Lowest point on earth (417 m, 1545 feet under sea-level), its existence by 50 years is compromised according to international experts.
Jordan river overexploitation by farm industry, industrial business and urban development made the only dead sea’s freshwater source strongly decrease.
Tourism and salt extraction industries would be responsible for massive evaporation, as a consequence the one meter decrease per year of the Dead sea.
We can add to that environmental disaster, a tough geopolitical situation between Israel and Palestine, Jordan playing a diplomatic role. Since the signing of Wadi Araba agreement in 1994, Jordan has become the second arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
However, other natural changes influence regional geopolitical stability. Fresh water reserves rarefaction doesn’t make easier relationship between those countries.
A inter-regional political collaboration seems to be one of the best solutions to resolve population needs.
This is how governments brought back a many decades old project into fashion : the Red sea – Dead sea project or also called «The Peace canal».
On World Bank’s initiative and financially supported by France, Japan, United States, Holland and Greece, a feasability study was handed in 2010 to a specialised committee made of World Bank members and representatives of israeli, palestinian and jordanian governments, on a canal work construction linking the Red sea to the Dead sea.
The main purpose is to restock the Dead sea in salt water. That 180 km long (112 miles), canal going through jordan territory, will enable provision of salt water from the Red sea (Aqaba) to the Dead sea.
Other large-scale projects will join this development axis. A desalinisation factory will be built to ensure drinkable water supply, ⅔ for Jordan and the ⅓ left will be split between Israel and Palestine.
Seeing the incline’ soil between the Red sea and the Dead sea, a hydraulic factory will be used to produce 600 megawatts of electricity per year
Issue are not only environmental, sanitary and political but economic and urban.
That huge project will require plenty of workers for constrution and functioning works of the canal.
Satellite projects will appear. In the desert, soil will be supplied by drinkable water. Many business men, as Yitzhak Tshuva an israeli billionaire, have already thought of touristic oasis and leisure parks construction.
Urban development will become possible and population will be able to settle down where only nomads used to go.
The project, estimated between 2 and 5 billions dollars, is raising protest.
According to Anne Bringault, Director manager at « Amis de la Terre de France », building a desalinisation factory close to Aqaba will damage ocean bottom, touristic resources of that territory. Downstream, provision of water from the Red sea less salty to the Dead sea will wipe out an unique biodiversity in the world.
Local businesses, thermal industry and salt extraction, will inevitably disappear.
Moreover, the canal course is located on the syrian-african rift where seismic activity is active and could damage pipes.
It will be difficult, I guess, for any NGO, to cancel this project given the symbol carried.
Last june, the jordan ministry of Water and Irrigation had to choose the company to start the first step of « Peace canal » construction work.