Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom said that Israel and Jordan have completed the formulation of an international tender to dig the Red Sea–Dead Sea canal and it will be published soon, Israel Radio reported. The planned canal will pass through Jordan’s territory and run 4.25 billion cubic ft. of water annually into the Dead Sea from the Gulf of Eilat. Of that, 2.85 billion cubic ft. will be desalinated in Israel, and Jordan will receive more than a quarter of the desalinated water.
Minister Shalom made the announcement at a reception for some 170 Jordanian citizens who started working in hotels in Eilat. More than 1,000 Jordanians are expected to join them soon, replacing the Sudanese and Eritreans migrant workers currently employed in the city’s hotels.
The historic Red Sea–Dead Sea canal project began with a memorandum of understanding signed in Washington by Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian Authority leaders on Dec. 9, 2013.
The water level in the Dead Sea is shrinking at a rate of more than three feet each year, and its surface area has shrunk by about 30% over the past 20 years. This is largely due to the diversion, with dams, canals, and pumping stations built by Israel and Jordan of more than 90% of the water of the Jordan River for drinking and agriculture in both Israel and Jordan. The decline of the Dead Sea level is creating major environmental problems: the creation of sink holes that endanger structures, plantations and roads; receding sea shores and the creation of mud plains; and other effects on the environment and the flora and fauna of the region. A World Bank Study estimated the intangible benefits of the removal of the environmental problems associated with the decline in the sea water level as about $31 billion.
The “Two Seas Canal” will be a conduit (via pipes and brine canal) running from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. It will provide potable water to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, bring sea water to stabilize the Dead Sea water level and generate electricity to support the energy needs of the project. The canal project is part of the plans to create institutions for economic cooperation between Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians, in the Dead Sea and through the Jordan Valley.