Monday, October 15, 2012
Reverse Osmosis to Rescue Water Scarcity in the Dead Sea
Engineers and scientists are expected to use Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology to merge the Dead and the Red seas under the “Two Seas Canal Project” worth 10 billion dollars.
RO, occurs when water is moved across a membrane against a concentration gradient from lower to higher concentration, under pressure to force ions, molecules and bacteria to be filtered, which is used purposely for the commercial desalination of seawater.
The project, to run in three-phases would be financed through international and multi-national institutions with counterpart funding from beneficiary countries, namely, Palestine, Jordan and Israel, would haul in 700,000 cubic metres of water into the Dead Sea from the Red Sea, a distance of 180 kilometres.
Results of feasibility studies and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) supported by the World Bank and other donors are yet to be released for concrete works to commence.
The region is witnessing water scarcity with its main freshwater source, the River Jordan, which has kept shrinking in size and posing declines in its annual flow from more than 1.3 billion cubic meters per year to less than 30 million cubic meters annually.
With Israel, Jordan and Syria, each grabbing as much clean water as they could, it is ironically the sewage that is keeping the river alive today.
In fact, water scarcity is a disincentive to many in the agriculture and industrial sectors as well as for domestic consumption, largely due to urbanization, pollution and global warming.
Mr Batir Wardam, environment expert and researcher, said the project, though ambitious, is expected to revive the biodiversity and water scarcity in the region.
He called for use of science to distinguish between myths and reality while urging the media to lead the crusade by setting the right agenda.
General Secretary of the Ministry of Water, Mr Bassem Talfah, said the situation is scary, which demands prompt action hence the invitation to the private sector to strike partnership with to government to diversify funding and implementation of the project.
He said the sector needs higher investment portfolios resulting from higher financial outlays in production cost stating that this manifests in a financial gap of One Billion Jordanian Dinar.
Mr Khaled Irani, President of Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, said the problem of water scarcity is not only a humanitarian issue but economic as well.
“Sixty-six percent of water is imported into Jordan of which 15 percent goes into agricultural activities. We cannot wait for the commencement of this project as its prospects are overwhelming.”
He entreated stakeholders to avoid knee-jerk reactions even as the recommendations are released and positive that the project would provide an alternative means for water in the country and beyond.
Contrarily, Dr Samir Mahmoud, media expert, said double-political commitment was needed to actualize the Two-Seas canal project as it is “haunted by political inactivity.”
“With the pace of development and disregard for timelines, the canal project will not see the light of day now, not within the next two decades,” he suggested.
He said merging the two seas would have an environmental catastrophe for Jordan, especially for occupying the lowest bit of the project.
Dr Mahmoud explained that Jordan’s location with increased salinity could be a bouquet for destabilization of the ecology in relation to marine life and culture of the Dead Sea.