silvan shalom 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom announced Saturday the creation of a pilot project to test the feasibility of the Red-Dead Canal project, designed to both provide drinking water and help rescue the Dead Sea.
The pilot would take 200 million cubic meters of water from the Red Sea; desalinate half for drinking water and then place the remaining 100 million cubic meters of sea water into the Dead Sea.
Shalom said the pilot would be conducted together with Jordan and the World Bank, through a program initiated by Water Authority Head Uri Shani.
According to a World Bank spokesman, the bank has nothing to announce beyond the continuation of a much larger feasibility study, which has been going on since last year.
Shalom announced the pilot after meeting over the weekend in Washington with the head of the World Bank Robert B. Zoellick.
"We are talking about a dramatic and important step that would advance the [Red Canal] project," said Shalom.
His announcement comes as the World Bank is in the midst of a feasibility study to examine the Red-Dead Canal project, which calls for a pipe or a canal to be constructed from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.
The overall project would purify 800 million cubic meters of water annually to be distributed for drinking purposes - primarily to Jordan, but Israel and the Palestinian Authority would also benefit. Another 1 billion cubic meters of sea water annually would be pumped into the Dead Sea, to raise its water level and stop it from drying up.
The feasibility study was started in 2008 and it is expected to be completed in 2010. The study is designed, among other things to evaluate the project's environmental impact.