The Jordan River is unique in its natural and cultural wealth, but is threatened by excessive water diversion and pollution, treated as a backyard dumping ground
Good news for the Jordan River! It has taken a decade of hard work but concrete change is finally taking place in the River Jordan. The Israel Water Authority will begin, for the first time, to allow water to flow regularly from Lake Kinneret into the Lower Jordan River in an effort to ecologically rehabilitate the river...  Read more in our latest NEWS ALERT
Background information on the issue at hand:
The Jordan River Valley, situated in the Great Rift Valley is of cultural, religious and geographical importance. The river is significant to billions of people from diverse religions and countries worldwide but is presently under threat.

Diversion of 96 per cent of its fresh water, in addition to discharge of large quantities of untreated sewage, threatens to irreversibly damage the River Valley. Israel, Jordan and Syria have all diverted its upstream waters for domestic and agricultural uses, leaving precious little fresh water for the river and its once thriving ecosystem.

Historically, the River Jordan has always been a meeting place and crossing place for plants, animals, and human societies. The most concrete visual example of the historical tradition of river crossings can be seen at a spot appropriately named "Old Bridges" where 3 bridges cross the river's width; a 2000 year old Roman Bridge, an old Ottoman Bridge, and a more recent British Mandate bridge.

Plenty of archaeological evidence on either side of the rivers' banks, from cities like Beit She'an (Israel), Pella and Umm Qais (Jordan), also shows commercial and cultural connections between major cities of the Valley. Parallel developments through several historical periods - similar types of pottery, mosaics and iron tools - indicate that cities across the valley had the same type of population from an anthropological perspective.

The Jordan River's rich symbolic value and importance to three of the world's major religions are by far the greatest attraction for tourists. The River Jordan is mentioned in several stories of the Old Testament. Genesis 13:10-11 refers to the beauty of the Jordan Valley: "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord." The river is also closely associated with the life of Jesus Christ, where he has been traditionally thought to have been baptized along its banks. Although the exact site of the Baptism of Jesus is disputed, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock each year to sites on either side of the river to be close to the original site. In addition, many of the venerable companions to the prophet Mohammad are buried near its banks, making it a holy site for Muslims around the world as well.

The Jordan Valley is also a lush, wetland ecosystem that is the biological heart of the region at large. In addition to the flora and fauna along the ground, the valley is one of the world's most important crossroads for migratory birds, 500 million birds migrate each spring and autumn season, an attraction to birdwatchers from across the globe.

Sadly, in the last 50 years, the River Jordan's annual flow has dropped from more than 1.3 billion cubic meters per year to less than 30 million cubic meters. With Israel, Jordan and Syria, each grabbing as much clean water as they can, it is ironically the sewage that is keeping the river alive today.

Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) has recently embarked on a broad campaign to raise awareness of the demise of the Lower Jordan River. Since much of the river is a closed military zone and off limits to the public, most people simply do not know that the river is drying up.

Click on the power point presentation or on this video (in Hebrew) for a basic review of the challenges facing the River.

(Choose Photo Album entitled "Jordan River" for general photos of the River and the project)
FoEME's Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.^$^~FRESH WATER in the LJR June 2013.jpg