UPDATE – Study tender extended for Dead Sea refill, possible hydro

The World Bank has extended an invitation for expressions of interest to study the environmental effects of drawing large amounts of seawater from the Gulf of Aqaba to refill the Dead Sea and possibly desalinate water and generate hydropower. Responses now are due April 22.

The bank previously called for responses by April 13. (HydroWorld 3/26/09) On behalf of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel, the bank last year named Coyne et Bellier of France to perform a feasibility study of the project. (HydroWorld 6/20/08) The three governments agreed in December 2006 to proceed with a feasibility study of an estimated US$2 billion to US$4 billion project.

The project, to build a 180-kilometer “Two Seas Canal,” is intended to reverse a 25-meter decline in the level of the Dead Sea in the past century. The Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth’s surface, has been shrinking because of increased use of water upstream from the Jordan River, the Dead Sea’s main source. France, the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan have signaled their willingness to contribute to the cost of the two-year study.

Any link between the seas might include a hydroelectric plant to capitalize on the drop of about 450 meters from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. It was estimated a hydro plant could have capacity of 550 MW. Over 18 months, the study is to examine oceanographic processes and environmental effects on the marine environment of the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat due to extraction of large amounts of sea water.

In extending the deadline, the bank said the terms of reference actually outline two studies, one for the Dead Sea and one for the Red Sea. Terms of reference for both studies are available on an Internet site for the Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance activities, www.worldbank.org/rds.

Expressions of interest are due by April 22 by mail, courier, e-mail, or Internet to World Bank, Attn: Alexander McPhail, Red Sea Study, MSN J11-1102, 1818 H St., N.W., Washington, DC 20433 USA; E-mail: amcphail@worldbank.org; Internet: www.worldbank.org/wbeconsultant.

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