JERUSALEM, Tuesday June 15 – Consultations in Jerusalem tomorrow will hear the latest in a series of initial assessment reports on the feasibility of an idea to convey water between the Red and Dead seas with World Bank organizers stressing that nothing is decided in this ambitious and controversial concept.
“This is a big idea to address a big problem, namely the dying of the Dead Sea” said Alex McPhail, study manager for the World Bank. “The World Bank is supporting the governments of Jordan and Israel and the Palestinian Authority in an ongoing investigation into the very complex science, engineering and economics that would underpin any such undertaking.”
McPhail stressed that “nothing has been decided yet by the three parties, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, because we are still in the middle of a comprehensive and integrated evaluation of the proposed Red Sea Dead Sea Water Conveyance project”.
A central element of the feasibility study, which began in June 2008, is a detailed environmental and social assessment. This is complemented by a study of alternatives that examines a wide range of options that might achieve the objectives. In addition, there are two specialized studies, one concerning the potential impacts on the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat, and one on the mixing of the Red Sea and Dead Sea waters.
“The World Bank has approached this study in the most transparent manner possible,” said Stephen Lintner, Senior Technical Advisor of the World Bank. “This is the third round of major public consultations which we are holding in Jordan, Israel and with the Palestinian Authority. A fourth will be next year. But besides that this whole process is underpinned by constant consultations with interested parties. It would be inappropriate to do otherwise.”
The consultations early next year will consider the draft final reports of the study program but Lintner stressed that at any stage the three beneficiaries, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, could initiate further studies. For example, they have instructed the feasibility study consultant to examine proposed options for a physical pilot study to examine mixing of the Red Sea and Dead Sea waters which differs from the mathematical modeling study currently underway.
A decision on ultimate feasibility would have to weigh all options, said McPhail. For example, current estimates are that the project would be a net consumer of energy in the order of 250MW, according to David Meehan, the engineer who heads the feasibility team. “The power demand for the proposed project will be updated as the work evolves,” he said. “Currently we are looking at 250MW but that could change and of course energy demand will be a factor in the overall feasibility.”