Red-Dead project poses threats to environment, conservationist claims

AMMAN — The Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance project (Red-Dead) poses environmental, political and social threats to Jordan, an environment specialist said this week.

Speaking at a seminar on Tuesday, Sufian Al Tal said the Red-Dead project could lead to a rise in earthquake activity in the region with water flow increasing and the transformation of the Dead Sea into a “living” sea as a result of marine life being transmitted into it.

The project, which also involves Palestine, seeks to provide Jordan with its water needs at reasonable prices, while at the same time prevent further shrinking of the Dead Sea.

Jordan signed an agreement with Israel in February on the first phase of the project’s implementation. 

Water Minister Hazem Nasser said at the time that a “true” adherence to the agreement would secure 30 million cubic metres (mcm) of freshwater for Palestine to cover its water deficit.

Stressing that the project is an “innovative” solution to desalinate sea water, the minister noted that 300mcm of water will be pumped each year under the first phase.

In its following phases, the Red-Dead project entails annually transferring up to 2 billion cubic metres of sea water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

A total of 85-100mcm of water will be desalinated annually, while seawater will be pumped from an intake located in the north of the Gulf of Aqaba, according to the minister.

Tal claimed that the project is “a fully Zionist scheme” that “primarily benefits the Zionist entity”.

He said chemical pollution caused by the mix of sulphate and calcium from each sea will eventually create a white milky layer above seawater, in turn obstructing the process of extracting salts from the sea.

Changes in sea levels will also result in surrounding properties and lands being immersed in water, leading to displacement in both the occupied Palestinian territories and Jordan, he added.

Also speaking at the seminar, organised by the Islamic Action Front (IAF), Mohammad Abu Taha, head of the Jordan Engineers Association’s water commission, claimed the project will be “an environmental disaster which will take years to produce results and… very costly”.

Highlighting the project’s effect on water quality, Abu Taha said it will “ruin the Dead Sea as mixing two types of water will create a variety of problems such as the formation of algae”.

For his part, session moderator and member of the IAF’s executive office, Khader Bani Khaled, underlined the importance of the Dead Sea on historical and tourist levels as well as its proximity to Jordan’s most prominent heritage attractions, which he said will be threatened by the canal.

This article is published in The Jordan Times.

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