Shalom: Pilot project to pump water from Red to Dead Sea
Shalom refutes a report in Monday's edition of The Jerusalem Post that the World Bank had not given a green light to the project.
By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
Vice Premier and Minister for Regional Cooperation Silvan Shalom's office clarified on Tuesday that a non-World Bank funded Red-Dead Conveyance pilot project would indeed be implemented alongside the feasibility studies being carried out by the World Bank.
Shalom refuted a report in Monday's edition of The Jerusalem Post that the World Bank had not given a green light to the project.
The pilot project would consist of a 180 km. pipe running from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, through which 200 million cubic meters of water per year would flow. One hundred million cubic meters would be desalinated for drinking purposes and another 100 million would be dumped into the Dead Sea to test the effect of seawater on it.
Scientists fear seawater could turn the Dead Sea either white or red, depending on certain chemical reactions.
According to the response from his office, Shalom and World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick reached agreement on the pilot project last week during their meeting in Washington. The statement added that the vice premier had already secured Jordanian approval.
The pilot project would be funded in one of two ways, according to Shalom's office. Either an international tender would go out for a company to construct the pipe in a build-operate-transfer process. The company would then sell the desalinated water to Israel, Jordan and the PA at an agreed upon price.
Alternatively, the company would construct the pipe as the contractor for the three parties, who would fund the project themselves or from international sources.
The World Bank is overseeing a set of feasibility studies that are expected to conclude in 2011. But a statement released late Monday night by the World Bank did not give any specifics about a pilot project.
According to the statement, "During the meeting [between Shalom and Zoellick] a number of other issues were discussed including a new initiative for a private sector-led proposed Jordan Red Sea Water Project that has no World Bank involvement.
"The World Bank Group recognizes the regional importance of expanding drinking water supplies in a sustainable manner, as well as supporting the three parties with a possible solution to the environmental problems facing the Dead Sea, and wants to be helpful. While no agreement on funding of either project has been reached, the Bank is working with all the parties to explore ideas, including the possibility of phased implementation.
"Any involvement by the World Bank requires consultation with all affected stakeholders, careful analysis to ensure that the project would be implemented in adherence with the World Bank's environmental and social safeguard policies which are designed to protect the environment and affected populations, and approval from the Bank's Board," according to the statement.
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