Enviornmentalists warn Dead Sea could disappear within 40 years

For the experts, it is a "unique geological phenomenon" that risks disappearing. Urgent intervention to slow down the lowering of the water and the progressive loss of the coast.  Main culprits are mining companies, particularly on the Israeli side.  The request for an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations.



Amman (AsiaNews) - Within the next 30 years, maximum 40, the Dead Sea is in danger of disappearing unless effective action is taken to slow down the reduction of water levels and the progressive loss of the coast.  

A group of experts in an editorial published by the Jordan Times, warn that in spite of repeated appeals in recent years the interested parties - governments of the area and international organizations - do not seem to worry about the dramatic crisis at the door.

Sakher Nsour, president of the Jordan Geologists Association, points out that the Dead Sea is "a unique geological phenomenon", which is in danger of "disappearing in the coming decades".  

From the latest environmental reports it emerges that the water level is decreasing at a rate of one and a half meters per year and that, over the last 40 years, the total volume of the basin has been reduced by 35%.

The progressive decline of the waters has already caused some effects on the ecosystem of the basin: first of all, the progressive removal from the shore of hotels, establishments and restaurants that once overlooked the sea and were a popular destination for tourists.  Many of the sandy beaches were once completely covered by water.  Moreover, in recent years enormous craters are emerging with increasing frequency within the water basin.

The Dead Sea is actually a lake located between Israel, Jordan and Palestine, in the Judean desert.  It is located in the deepest depression of the earth and is the result of the millenary evaporation of its waters, not compensated by the contribution of the tributaries.  Today the level of the upper basin to the north is 415 meters below sea level and the gap continues to increase.  The peculiar characteristic is the extreme salinity of the waters, which does not allow life forms except for some types of bacteria.

According to experts, there are natural factors and human responsibilities behind the decline, including Israel's extensive use of the waters of the Jordan River in the Negev desert in the south.  Added to this are the salt and potassium extraction plants on the shores of the sea, especially on the Israeli side, which have contributed to the enormous pumping of water.  Finally, another contributing factor is the extreme fluctuation of the precipitations that have reduced, and not just, the contribution of water to the rivers that feed the basin

The primary reasons for the crisis are man-made principally mining activities promoted in recent years, against which the judiciary is also begining to move.  In recent days, the court in Haifa, collecting a petition from environmental group Adam Teva V’Din, imposed a limit on Dead Sea Works for the withdrawal of waters from the basin for industrial purposes.  

The most important [Israeli] plant for the extraction of potassium in Sdom is among the main culprits according to ecologists in terms of pollution and its contribution to the emptying of the Dead Sea.

Environmental activists and NGOs hope for an international conference to "save the Dead Sea", to be held "as soon as possible" under the auspices of the United Nations.  The idea is that of a global meeting, because it is "the task and interest of all" to save the basin and prevent its final disappearance.