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Monday, May 09, 2005

Red-Dead canal planned

Sounds like a win-win.
Ministers from Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority will today sign an agreement to pave the way for the construction of a canal that will link the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

The canal will generate electricity, provide fresh water, and prevent the Dead Sea from drying up.

It will draw water from the Red Sea at Aqaba in Jordan, raise it 170 metres above sea level and then let it fall to the Dead Sea which, at 400 metres below sea level, is the lowest place on earth.

The project will consist of 110 miles of canal, tunnel and piping, and the electricity provided by the water will provide for pumping the water in the initial stages and power a desalination plant.

There are also plans to construct holiday resorts and a water park along parts of the route.

The first stage will be a $20m (£10.15m) feasibility study partly funded by the World Bank with the estimated $3bn cost of the final project also being partly funded by the bank.

Canals linking the Red Sea, Dead Sea and Mediterranean Sea have been discussed since the 19th century, initially for transport, then hydroelectricity and now with the main purpose of desalinating sea water.

As the population in the region has exploded over the past 100 years water has become more and more precious.

As a result the Dead Sea, a lake 10 times more salty than sea water, has fallen by 20 metres leaving wide areas of salt flats. The level of the sea continues to fall by about 80cm a year.