Dead Sea refill could include Israel hydro plant

A World Bank official says a study of a US$2 billion to US$4 billion project to top up the shrinking Dead Sea with water from the Red Sea could start in the coming months. Officials say the project could include a hydropower project in Israel.

France, the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan have signaled their willingness to help fund a US$15 million feasibility study of how to reverse a 25-meter decline in the level of the Dead Sea in the past century. The Dead Sea has been shrinking because of increased upstream use of water from the Jordan River, the Dead Sea’s main source.

Vahid Alavian, who is in charge of the project at the World Bank, said Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority are committed to the study of a 180-kilometer “Two Seas Canal” plan despite the Lebanon war and clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.

Any link between the seas might include a hydroelectric project to capitalize on the drop of about 450 meters from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth’s surface.

“We are working with a number of other donors,” Alavian said during a conference of water experts in Stockholm, Sweden. “Our hope is that in the next two or three months we can have all the agreements in place and we will launch this study,” he said.

The study also would examine environmental impacts. Alavian said the Dead Sea is too salty for all but a few salt-loving micro-organisms. It was unclear whether the sea would be affected by less salty Red Sea water.

Mediterranean plan would include 800-MW hydro

Kardan subsidiary Tahal Group of Israel has studied a plan for 108 kilometers of canals, tunnels, and pressure pipeline to carry seawater from the Mediterranean Sea to recharge the Dead Sea.

That US$1.1 billion plan would include an 800-MW pumped-storage project that would generate 1.8 billion kWh a year during the Dead Sea “filling period” of 10 to 12 years. Thereafter, the project, employing a gross head of 444 to 472 meters, would annually generate about 1.4 billion kWh per year, Tahal said.

Israeli business newspaper Globes reported in September that Tahal Group and Triple R Energy plan to build a pumped-storage hydro project at Kochav Hayarden in the Beit Shean Valley for 140 million shekels (US$32.5 million).

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