January 16, 2013 – World Bank Study Irresponsible – Conclusions Do Not Match the Findings

World Bank Study Irresponsible – Conclusions Do Not Match the Findings

The ‘Red Dead Canal’ project idea has wasted a decade for the Dead Sea

January 16, 2013

A draft set of reports of the World Bank that was released last weekend confirm that it is time to finally bury the idea of the “Red Dead Conduit” project once and for all. The World Bank report is irresponsible as the conclusions drawn ignore the environmental risks and the high economic price to pay.

“If this project were to go forward, the real beneficiaries would be Israeli business tycoons associated with the building of the largest desalination plant in the world, and foreign pipeline construction companies. The public would be the ones to foot the bill, twice over – once, in unaffordable water prices, and again, in the further demise of the environment, said Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East.

During the more than 10 years that the World Bank has been studying the idea of the Red Dead Conduit, the Dead Sea has only continued to decline – by more than 15 meters. “This was a wasted 10 years for the Dead Sea. Instead of dealing with the root cause of the problem and the real reason for the shrinking of the Sea – the diversion of the Jordan River and the unlimited use of Dead Sea waters by the Mineral Industries – attention was instead placed squarely on this pipe dream project,” said Nader Khateeb, Palestinian Director of EcoPeace.

The final draft of the feasibility report confirms that the Red Dead project’s dangers include turning the Dead Sea into a sea of red algae blooms and milky white gypsum formations, polluting with sea water the ground water in the Araba / Arava Valley, as well as negative impacts on the coral reefs in Eilat and Aqaba. The project study also established that the project suffers from a severe negative energy balance requiring up to two new power stations to be built in Jordan, to both pump marine water towards the Dead Sea, and the desalinated water over a 1000 meters up to Jordan’s capital Amman.

The so-called ‘pilot project’, as supported by Israel’s Minister of Regional Cooperation, Silvan Shalom, was dismissed as not feasible. According to the authors of the feasibility study, the only viable implementation of the project would be to build half the project all at once – resulting in possible irreversible damage to the environment.

The study states that the pipeline project is feasible economically, however, in the finer print, it explains that the economic viability of the project is dependent on international grants of $5 billion USD, in addition to Jordan raising $2.5 billion dollars in loans for associated water infrastructure delivery costs to Amman. Only if these 2 conditions are met, will the private sector then invest the remaining $2.6 billion dollars needed for the construction of desalination plants.

“The study seems to forget that there is a global economic crisis, that Jordan is on the verge of bankruptcy, and that Israel is heavily in the red. The study also ignores the fact that a cubic meter of water from this project would cost up to $2.7 in Jordan; an impossible expense for Jordanians to pay, that will lead to riots in the streets. Similarly, for Israelis and Palestinians, the water from this project will cost $1.8 per cubic meter, more than triple the cost of desalination at the Mediterranean,” said Munqeth Mehyar, Jordanian Director of EcoPeace.

“The World Bank authors of the feasibility study based the economic feasibility of the project on the loss of tourism from the current fall in Dead Sea waters, but conveniently ignore that a Dead Sea full of algae growth and milky white gypsum, as a result of the proposed conduit, would be the death blow for tourism at the Dead Sea” continued Bromberg.

Authors of the World Bank ‘Alternatives Study’ believe that there are indeed alternative measures that can meet the goals of stabilizing the Dead Sea, providing water to the region, and promoting regional cooperation. The alternative study identifies the need to advance water reform in the region that would combine the partial rehabilitation of the River Jordan and have the Israeli Dead Sea Works and the Jordanian Arab Potash company pay for the water they extract from the Dead Sea – which would give them an incentive to reduce their harmful impacts on the Dead Sea.

The wasted decade surely reinforces the urgency on the need to move forward with sustainable solutions, and ones that tackle the root causes of the problem.

EcoPeace Middle East is a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists. Our primary objective is the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect our shared environmental heritage. EcoPeace has studied the idea of the Red Dead Canal and has been monitoring the issue for the past decade.


For more information, please contact Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director, at 052-4532597, gidon@ecopeaceme.org