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Reclaiming the Dead Sea: Alternatives for Action

The Dead Sea, the lowest and saltiest sea in the world, is currently sustaining severe environmental damage. As a result of Israel, Jordan and Syria's pumping of water from the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee and Yarmouk River, as well as the direct pumping of water from the Dead Sea by industries in Israel and Jordan, the natural supply of water to the sea is diminishing and the sea is slowly drying up. Carrying on in a "business as usual" scenario was found to be the most expensive alternative, both economically and environmentally, with environmental, infrastructure and recreation damages estimated at $90 Million annually.

The aim of this project was to evaluate and present different alternatives for rehabilitating the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. In the process, three main alternatives were examined: "business as usual", introducing sea water into the Dead Sea (from the Mediterranean or from the Red Sea), and water supply from the Jordan River.

The goal of this project was to present its participants, the Israeli public and the neighboring countries, a broad picture of the declining state of the Dead Sea, and options for its rehabilitation. The project assumes that placing this broad picture on the public agenda will enable meaningful discussion of the various alternatives, and will facilitate an educated decision-making process that will result in the most effective response with minimal environmental risk.

The report was submitted to the World Bank, which announced a tender for the planning of one chosen alternative described in the document. The document's publication led the World Bank and other decision makers to realize the complexity of the alternatives, and that focusing on a single solution will be neither economic nor environmentally wise. The report was also presented to the environmental lobby in the Knesset and is quoted frequently.