Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance

Wednesday, 16 February 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Energy, Environment, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  6 minutes

Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal map © Makeandtoss

Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal map © Makeandtoss

The Red Sea–Dead Sea Conveyance (RSDSC), sometimes called the Two Seas Canal, is a planned pipeline to run from the coastal city of Aqaba by the Red Sea to the Lisan area in the Dead Sea. It will provide drinking water to Jordan, Israel and Palestine, bring water with a high concentration of salts resulting from the desalination process (reject brine) to stabilise the Dead Sea water level, and generate electricity to support the energy needs of the project. The project is planned to be carried out by Jordan and is entirely in Jordanian territory. It will be financed by the governments of Jordan, Israel, and a number of international donors.

The water level in the Dead Sea is shrinking at a rate of more than one metre per year, and its surface area has shrunk by about 33% since the 1960s. This is largely due to the diversion of most of the flow into the Dead Sea from the Jordan River, much of which originates in the Sea of Galilee. The completion of the National Water Carrier scheme in 1964 diverted water for Israel, Jordan and Syria to use for irrigation and drinking water.

The decline of the Dead Sea level is causing major local environmental problems, including sinkholes and receding shorelines. Other routes for a conduit for the same objectives as the RSDSC, including the Mediterranean–Dead Sea Canal, were proposed in Israel in the 1980s, but were discarded. The project has a tentative $10 billion price tag, with the first phase—slated to begin construction in 2021—costing $1.1 billion. The Jordanian government is currently in the process of shortlisting consortiums and waiting for the final feasibility study, for which international funding would follow.

Dead Sea © David Shankbone/cc-by-sa-3.0 Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal map © Makeandtoss
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Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal map © Makeandtoss
The proposed conveyance would pump seawater 230 meters uphill from the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba through the Arabah Valley in Jordan. The water would then flow down gravitationally through multiple pipelines to the area of the Dead Sea, followed by a drop through a penstock to the level of the Dead Sea near its shore, and then an open canal to the Sea itself, which lies about 420 meters below sea level. The project would utilize about 225 km of pipelines for seawater and brine, parallel to the Arabah Valley in Jordan. The project would also have about 178 km of freshwater pipelines to the Amman area. It also would include several water desalination plants and at least one hydroelectric plant. In its final phase, it would produce about 850 million cubic meters of freshwater per year. The project would require electric power from the Jordanian power grid, but it would also provide some electricity through hydroelectric power. In the sum, this project would probably be a large net user of energy. The net power demand would have to be satisfied through other power projects whose costs are not included in the project costs. The Kingdom of Jordan plans to build a large nuclear power plant that might make up the difference.

The project cost estimates vary from two to more than ten billion dollars depending on its structure and stages. The first phase of the Jordan Red Sea Project is expected to cost US$2.5 billion. It is expected to be financed to a large extent from commercial sources, including debt and equity and from soft international financing. As of January 2019, Israel is expected to contribute over one billion dollars over a period of 25 years.

The transfer of mass volumes of water from one sea to another can bear drastic consequences on the unique natural characteristics of each of the two seas, as well as the desert valley which separates them, the Arabah. Some of these characteristics, especially in the Dead Sea area, are unique on a global perspective, and therefore crucially important for conservation. The environmental group EcoPeace Middle East has protested against the allegedly premature approval of the project. By the mid-noughties, the group listed several potential hazardous effects of the project on the unique natural systems of the Red Sea, the Dead Sea, and the Arabah. Some have argued that these risks are serious enough to necessitate further discussion, or feel that their effects are negligible. In August 2011, the World Bank published a study based on environmental assessments carried out under its supervision. A letter to the World Bank is included in its introduction, in which the science team’s leader explains that “it is preferable to study and mitigate unexpected impacts and phenomena which may arise once seawater first mixes in the Dead Sea, before a full scale RSDSC is implemented.”

Read more on Wikipedia Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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