Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty WorldSM
Sharing Water: Israel And Jordan Finalise Agreement For Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline

Via Future Directions International, a report on how development of the US$900 million Red Sea-Dead Sea water sharing project is set to go ahead following the finalisation of the Jordan-Israel water supply agreement in February:

Background

Accessing enough fresh water to cater to rising demand is an ongoing challenge in the Middle East. For Jordan and Israel, limited fresh water resources have led to their dependence on the Jordan River and the over-extraction of groundwater resources. Rapid population growth and water consumption has critically diminished the availability of both surface and ground water in the Jordan River Basin. The Red Sea-Dead Sea project, an exchange of water between Israel and Jordan, signals increasing co-operation over water resources.

Comment

Israel and Jordan’s recent agreement to the World Bank-sponsored Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline and accompanying desalination plant is the latest supply-side solution attempting to meet rising water demand in the region. The project involves the construction of a 65 to 85 million cubic metre (MCM) desalination plant in the Gulf of Aqaba and a 180 kilometre-long pipeline linking the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

Fresh water produced from the desalination plant will supply the Jordanian city of Aqaba, the Israeli city of Eilat and nearby settlements. At least 50 per cent of the fresh water produced will be supplied to Israel. In return, Israel will increase its yearly supply of water to both Palestine and Jordan. This includes the releaseof a further 50 MCM to Jordan from the Sea of Galilee. Palestine was a signatory on the project’s original memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the three parties in December 2013. In this final agreement, Israel has stated that it will come to a separate arrangement for water provision with Palestine.

The additional water supply is of critical importance to Israel, Jordan and Palestine, as current water demand exceeds supply. The water supply in these locales is also irregular and the per capita availability of water continues to drop as populations expand. While the plant and pipeline will supply much needed water to cities, it is expected to take 18 months before construction of the desalination plant begins and three years before the laying of the pipeline.

Forecast population growth rates for the region suggest that, in line with this timeline, the project will do little to alleviate per capita shortages. Jordan is ranked the fourth most water deprived country in the world with a water deficit of approximately 565 MCM per annum. Israel has approximately 265 cubic metres of water available per person per year and is expanding its desalination capacity in an attempt to meet growing demand. Based on the UN definition of water scarcity as having less than 1,000 cubic metres of water available per person annually, both countries are water-poor. This situation is unlikely to change in the near future, even with the additional desalinated supply.     

The project will be managed by a joint Israeli-Jordanian directorate and is sponsored by the World Bank and European Union. Co-operation between the two countries to increase the availability of fresh water in the region and address the rapid decline of the Dead Sea is a step in the right direction. What is required beyond bi-national supply-side measures, however, is an integrated approach prioritising both demand- and supply-side management at a basin level. Water supply strategies must take into account long-term population growth and develop systems that will be robust enough to ensure water security and environmental sustainability for the region. Co-operation among all states that border the Jordan River Basin is critical, although unlikely in the foreseeable future.



This entry was posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 3:32 am and is filed under Dead Sea, Israel, Jordan.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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