08/20/2013, 00.00
JORDAN
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Jordan to quench thirst with Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline

Jordan's ambitious plan intends to eliminate water shortages and stop the degradation of the Dead Sea. "We do not need to reach an agreement with Israel," minister in Amman says.

Amman (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur said on Monday his government plans to spend US$ 980 million to obtain 100 million cubic metres of water a year.

"The government has approved the project," he told a news conference, linking the Dead and Red Seas "after years of technical, political, economic and geological studies".

Under the plan, Jordan will draw water from the Gulf of Aqaba at the northern end of the Red Sea to the nearby Risheh Height, where a desalination plant is to be built to treat water.

"The desalinated water will go south to Aqaba, while salt water will be pumped to the Dead Sea," Nsur said.

Water scarcity is common to the southern regions of Israel and Jordan. At first, the two countries plus Palestine had agreed to fund an US$ 11 billion pipeline from the Red Sea to refill the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea and provide drinking water.

"We had no other option. We will revive the idea of saving the Dead Sea, while at the same time having drinking water. And we do not need to reach an agreement with Israel," Jordanian Water Minister Hazem Nasser said.

At the same time, "We are thinking of selling desalinated water to Israel and buying water from Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee)," PM Nsur said. "Water from Tiberias will be cheaper for reasons related to transportation, costing us one-third of a dinar per cubic metre".

The degradation of the Dead Sea started in the 1960s when Israel, Jordan and Syria began to divert water from the Jordan River, the Dead Sea's main supplier.

The Dead Sea, the world's lowest and saltiest body of water, is set to dry out by 2050 with drought in the forecast for the desert areas of Israel and Jordan.

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