Water water everywhere

Unlike Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, however, it seems that there will be plenty to drink.

Red-Dead Canal

Route of the Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline (screenshot from video on Israel Hayom

Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians have finally signed on the dotted line enabling the construction of the “Red-Dead Canal” – a pipeline connecting the Red Sea and the Dead Sea:

Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority were set on Monday to ink an agreement to build a long-anticipated pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, part of an initiative that would produce millions of cubic meters of drinking water for the parched region and slake the critically dwindling Dead Sea.

[…]

“We’re talking about a historic process that realizes a dream of many years,” Shalom told Yedioth Ahronoth, which broke the story. “We have here strategic cooperation of national significance between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority.”

[…]

The surface of the Dead Sea lies some 427 meters (1,400 feet) below sea level, and water would naturally flow to it from the Red Sea. The project will be completed in four to five years, the report said.

According to the report, around 200 million cubic meters of sea water are to be pumped from the Red Sea, at the very southern tip of Israel, per year. A desalination plant in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, across the gulf from the Israeli resort town of Eilat, will produce drinking water. Israel is to receive around 30-50 million cubic meters, for the benefit of the port city of Eilat and communities in the the arid Arava region, while Jordan will use 30 million cubic meters for its own southern areas.

One hundred million cubic meters of the highly saline byproduct of the process will be piped north to the Dead Sea to replenish the lake, whose level has dipped precariously in recent decades. Environmentalists have warned that pumping the water into the Dead Sea will endanger the environment.

In addition, Israel will pump from the Sea of Galilee 50 million cubic meters of fresh water for Jordan’s northern regions and 30 million cubic meters for the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank.

The idea of a conduit between the two bodies of water was first put forward by the British during the 19th century. In the 1990s, after Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement, the idea of laying a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea began to gain momentum.

The project is to be funded by the World Bank and international donors, as Globes reports:

The Red Sea-Dead Sea Conduit will cost an estimated $200-400 million, which will be financed by the World Bank with bridge loans that will be repaid by donor countries and philanthropists.

The Aqaba desalination plant will be built under a BOT (build, operate, transfer) contract by private sector companies, which will be chosen by tender. The tender’s prequalification stage will be opened in a few days, and construction is scheduled to begin in twelve months and take four years.

So far, so good. This sounds like excellent news, a win-win situation for the entire region. However, this being the Middle East, there are some nay-sayers in the environment protection field. Via Globes:

Adam Teva V’Din is cooling the enthusiasm surrounding the agreement, and warns that the ambitious initiative will be a disaster for generations to come. Adam Teva V’Din Water Management Head Sarit Caspi-Oron said today: “The mineral composition of the Dead Sea is unique and unlike any other place in the world, it is what makes it what it is and allows industry to profit so extensively from it. Piping water from the Red Sea to it will lead to the destruction of its ecosystem.” According to Caspi-Oron, under the first phase of the plan, half of the water that is drawn from the Red Sea will be channeled to the northern basin of the Dead Sea. “This process will turn the Dead Sea into an artificial body of water that is fed by the Red Sea, will shut down the industry that is built around it, and will destroy its uniqueness,” she said.

In addition, she said that there was no substance to the claim that the project would save the Dead Sea from drying out, that the implementation of the first phase of the project would not raise the water level in the northern basin, and that, in any event, environmental surveys conducted in the past suggested that channeling massive amounts of water was liable to cover the Dead Sea with a layer of gypsum, or to trigger the growth of algae, which would color the water red. “Saving the Dead Sea means protecting it, and not by artificial means. We objected to this plan at every related hearing at the World Bank, which is leading this initiative. We intend to assess our next steps on the matter, including collaboration with environmental organizations around the world to initiate a broad public campaign, as the entire project is being carried out in Jordanian territory.”

Not being an expert on water technology, desalination or the environment, I find it hard to tell who is right in this argument. I would be happy to hear in the comments if anyone has an informed opinion on this matter.

As far as the Dutch are concerned however, they would probably be glad to see the whole project scrapped. This is because Israel’s water carrier, Mekorot, also operates in the West Bank, providing water facilities (those bastards!) for the Palestinians and therefore the Dutch water company has severed ties with Mekorot:

Vitens, the Netherland’s largest drinking water supplier, decided Tuesday it will not do something both the Palestinians and Jordanians made abundantly clear the day before they are willing to do: work with Mekorot, Israel’s national water corporation.

Vitens explained its decision by saying that it had to do with Israel’s alleged violations of international law. The firm said that it places great emphasis on moral standards and abiding by international rules, and as a result could not continue cooperative projects with its Israeli counterpart.

[…]

Although the official company statement did not divulge exactly what regulations Mekorot violated, Dutch media reports said that Vitens decided to cancel collaborations due to Mekorot’s presence in the West Bank, following consultations with the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry.

“Vitens attaches great importance to integrity and adhering to (inter)national laws and regulations,” an official statement from the company said. “Following consultation with stakeholders, the company came to the realization that it is extremely difficult to continue joint work on projects, as they cannot be separated from the political environment.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, noting that the Palestinians will cooperate with Mekorot, while the Dutch firm will not, said “what we see here is an urgent need for a little common sense.”

“It is more than strange that this Dutch company should boycott an Israel peer that works with the World Bank on a very important regional cooperation project, which includes the Jordanians and Palestinians,” he said. “This only shows that by caving in to boycott pressures, one makes absurd decisions that result in a topsy-turvy situation.”

Palmor is exactly right although much too polite. Can you imagine the Dutch outrage if Mekorot did not operate in the West Bank? There would be justified howls of “apartheid!”, “ethnic cleansing by thirst!”, “discrimination” and the rest. Israel would be accused of trying to kill the Palestinians by cutting off their water supplies and water sanitation facilities.

In fact the Dutch move makes clear what all the BDS brigade wish: to put Israel into a no-win situation, damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

I hope the Dutch one day find themselves in a situation where they will have no choice but to turn to Israel as as world leader in water technology.  And it would be nice to think that Israel would boycott them in return, but the truth is we are bigger than that and better than them.

Meanwhile let them wallow in their own salinated water.

Flooding on the Tel Aviv Boardwalk

To conclude this very mixed watery tale, we Israelis are delighted to be wallowing in our own very wet very cold winter storm, only a week after a very unseasonable Hannukah heatwave.

Jerusalem prepares for snow

An influx of cold air flowing from Eastern Europe to the Eastern Mediterranean region will bring about wintry weather for the next few days, beginning with heavy rains and winds on Wednesday, according to data compiled by Israel Meteorological Services deputy director Nir Stav.

[…]

All over the country, temperatures will be between 7 and 9 degrees centigrade below average, and snowfall may begin as early as Wednesday night in the country’s North, Razy explained.

Snow could also fall in the northern Negev on Friday, she added.

[…]

There will likely be a rapid increase in the height of waves as well at the Haifa Port. In addition, widespread rain in strong, heavy volumes may cause flooding in the country’s North and Center.

By Wednesday evening, snow may fall on the Golan Heights and Galilee mountain peaks, the IMS data said.

Snow may fall over all of the country’s mountain peaks, including those in the Center, on Thursday morning, but by around noon the central mountains will receive mostly sleet, the IMS data reported.

The southern coastal plain in particular will be at risk for flooding, and the central mountain peaks will once again possibly receive snow in the evening.

More at Arutz Sheva and the Times of Israel. And there’s a good photo essay at Ynet, including some moving pictures of the homeless in Tel Aviv preparing for the storm.

If the Red-Dead canal doesn’t pan out in the end for whatever reason, we could always start a bucket brigade from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea! 🙂

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9 Responses to Water water everywhere

  1. cba says:

    the Dutch move makes clear what all the BDS brigade wish: to put Israel into a no-win situation, damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

    You’re so right.

  2. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  3. ealha3 says:

    I understand the environmentalist are also filing a class-action injunction in the High International Court of Mother Nature seeking to prohibit rain and snow from falling into the Dead Sea lest it come alive, changing its’ historical physical properties and causing a resurgence of life forms and – horrors of horrors – manufacturing and residential development. As for the pipe-line deal, keep in mind, we are dealing in a part of the world where what is Jewish is subject to destruction. While many see the project as life-giving, too many, I fear will see it for that reason as just another opportunity for a target. All that can be said is that hopefully, more will benefit than those who will suffer (so what else is new?)

    • anneinpt says:

      the environmentalist are also filing a class-action injunction in the High International Court of Mother Nature seeking to prohibit rain and snow from falling into the Dead Sea lest it come alive,

      Ha ha! That is pretty funny. It could almost be true though, especially at the moment with the huge amounts of rain that are falling. It’s already started snowing in Gush Etzion (live weather report from my daughter).

      The rest of your comment is also sadly spot-on. The one very good thing about this project is that it’s going to be a monster of a headache for the BDS brigade. How are they to boycott something that the Arabs themselves have signed onto?

      It’s nice to curl up with a cup of schadenfreude on a rainy evening…

  4. PeteCA says:

    very interesting water project. I would think that if Israel ensures that the water going into the Dead Sea is highly salinated (matching the water that is there now) then that is really quite a clever solution to the overall problem. is there a real risk of environmental change … yes of course there is. but on the other hand, there is also a real risk of change if the Dead Sea is not replenished away. Overall – a very interesting concept. And it does get neighbors working together to solve a bigger problem … always a positive thing these days 🙂
    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      on the other hand, there is also a real risk of change if the Dead Sea is not replenished away

      Excellent point! And one which the environmentalists haven’t really addressed, at least not in the articles that I have read.

      And yes, it has indeed gotten us neighbours all working together, which just goes to show that on the ground (or the water), when politics is taken out of the equation, we can indeed “all just get along”. Not quite kumbaya times, but good all the same.

  5. Reality says:

    I just hope that the Jordanians will keep to their end of the deal & not decide(or rather their huge Palestinian populace may decide) that the Dead sea is not ours & only theirs! As for the Dutch -it just shows how amazingly stupid people reach high places & become decision makers! What idiots! Oh well i guess if you sign on to the BDS wagon anything with Israels’ name on it has to be boycotted without investigating further! As you said Anne ,I hope one day we can be in a position to “choose to work” with other countries instead of helping them!

    • anneinpt says:

      You are more correct than you think about the stupidity, or rather the malice, of people in high places. It turns out that the minister (or prime minister?) who instructed the water company to boycott Israel is aiming for a job in… the EU! He thinks that an anti-Israel record will enhance his credentials. Wait for my next post which will explain further.

      I hope his record comes back to bite him in the tush one of these days.

  6. Pingback: How boycotters justify their antisemitism | Anne's Opinions

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