Two years into its Red- Dead Study program, the World Bank offered Wednesday
some initial glimpses into what a conveyance to bring water from one sea to the
other could look like during a public hearing at Jerusalem’s Kibbutz Ramat
World Bank researchers are conducting a feasibility study of a
proposed project to convey water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea to reverse its
The World Bank was asked by the three participating
governments – Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority – to manage
study, for which final reports are expected at the beginning of 2011.
countries could authorize additional studies.
have claimed that the “alternatives” study, which was added to the
study project after the initial Terms of Reference were drawn up, has
given enough time.
Water Authority head Prof. Uri Shani said Israel would
launch any additional studies it felt it needed after the feasibility
By Sunday the World Bank will have held five public
consultations over a week and a half span – in Amman, Aqaba, Eilat,
David Meehan, from the French consultant firm Coyne et
Bellier and project leader for the feasibility study, outlined the
After completing data collection in 2008, the project is now in the
substudy phase, which focuses on four elements: the Red Sea and intake
the Arava Valley and conveyance system, the Dead Sea and discharge
hydro power, desalination and water supply.
Meehan said an initial
interim report had been completed and submitted focusing on the Arava
conveyance, and on hydro power, desalination and water supply.
taking water from the Red Sea were being modeled and examined, as were
of that water on the Dead Sea. He said data the final substudies were
to be released in October.
“The reports do not draw any conclusions about
feasibility yet. They merely define what a feasible project might look
told the audience.
Meehan then got down to some specifics regarding the
intake point and type of conveyance being considered.
“We are estimating
a conveyance capacity of 1,000 to 2,000 million cubic meters (mcm) per
desalination, with phased development, and an ultimate desalination goal
850m.cm/yr around 2060,” he said.
While initially the Terms of Reference
talked about creating energy, Meehan said the project would actually
need to be
“On day one, the project will need 150 to 250 MW,” he
Meehan said that the energy needs had always been part of the
reports since the pre-assessment phase.
“The overall project would be a
large consumer of energy, that has never been hidden,” he insisted.
target level of the Dead Sea would be 410 to 420 meters below sea level
2048, Meehan said. Right now, the Dead Sea is 424 below sea
Regarding intake locations for the conveyance, Meehan said the
eastern intake location on the site of the old Aqaba power plant on the
seems most feasible on technical grounds, but final conclusions would be
verified by modeling studies.
The feasibility assessment was examining
three different types of conveyances.
A gravity flow tunnel through the
low land which would not require pumping, a combination of pipes and
along the escarpment, and a pumped pipeline of up to six parallel pipes
about three meters in diameter.
Yitzhak Tshuva’s “Peace Canal” idea of
lakes and resorts, which he proposed last year, was never part of the
Reference of the World Bank’s study and would not be examined, officials
All three current options would mostly be built in Jordanian
territory, Meehan said.
The tunneling option would be a typically-sized
tunnel if atypically long, according to Meehan.
Raymond Colley, of the
British firm ERM, discussed the environmental and social assessment his
He said much of his assessment was awaiting the results of
the various sub-studies. However, ERM had begun examining the three
mentioned options which the engineers have also begun to look at.
suggested eastern intake site had two advantages: It was situated in a
area and it was of “less terrestrial environmental significance than
the northern or western side. “The Western intake in Israel was too
terms of coral.
Major issues associated with marine environment remain to
be investigated,” however, Colley said.
“While a canal would be cheaper
than a tunnel, at first glance on environmental grounds those areas of
canal gave us cause for concern,” Colley said, “To the north, the land
for farming. Also it would be introducing alien ecology and structure
desert. Therefore, it is seemingly clearly preferable to use a tunnel
way.” Regarding a pipeline versus a tunnel, Colley said there were trade
“Constructing a pipeline is very messy, with a 50 km-long
moving work site and 100 m-wide trenches, there would be vehicle
access roads,” he said.
“A tunnel would be confined to small tunnel
entrances – about five hectares each. However, the ideal sites for
entrances are wadi bottoms – and those are the most sensitive sites
route. So there’s a tradeoff,” he concluded.
MKs Nitzan Horowitz
(Meretz), who addressed the audience, and Dov Henin (Hadash), who had a
statement read out, urged serious studies of the alternatives.
representatives of regional councils and Dead Sea mineral mining
they felt they had not been consulted enough during the feasibility
Others called for or objected to a pilot project to test the
mixing of the waters, which has been undertaken periodically over the
examine the effects, Shani said.