FAQ
The following are Frequently Asked Questions about the Red Sea - Dead Sea Conduit project
1. Why a Peace Conduit?
The water level of the Dead Sea is dropping by an average of 1 metre per year. The great salt lake has already shrunk by a third - with dramatic impacts on the unique ecology and the economic development in the Dead Sea region.

The construction of a water conveyance system bringing salt water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea is one proposal that would stabilize the water level of the Dead Sea and thus preserve tourism, agriculture and mineral extraction in the region.

Exploitation of the gradient from the Red Sea (sea level) to the Dead Sea (at 417 m below sea level) could produce hydroelectric power. The energy gained would be used for the operation of a desalination plant. Annually half of the 1,800 million cubic metres of salt water would be treated and would provide drinking water for Jordan, Israel and Palestine: The remaining concentrate would replenish the Dead Sea.

Over long stretches, more than 200 km across the Arava Valley, the Peace Conduit would be a pipeline and not an open canal.

For decades there have been plans to construct a canal from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea and from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea (so called Med-Dead and Red-Dead Canal, respectively).

Since the presentation of the so called Peace Conduit project from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea by the governments of Israel and Jordan at the World Summit in Johannesburg 2002, the initiative gained in importance. Importantly, the Palestinian Authority has given its support for this project as well.

2. How much would the construction of the Peace Conduit cost?
There are only estimates as currently no feasibility studies have yet been completed. The construction costs of the conduit alone are being estimated at approx. 1 billion US $. The total costs including the construction of the planned hydroelectric power plant as well as a water distribution network are projected to approx. 5 billion $ at least.

The three riparian countries of the Dead Sea - Israel, Jordan and Palestinians - are directly or indirectly involved and are concerned by the construction of the canal. Therefore, it is proposed to finance the canal as a Peace and Development Project by funds managed by the World Bank. International financial donors and states would replenish the fund. Presently though, it is absolutely not clear whether investors can be found for the estimated 5 billion $ construction costs.

3. When will the conduit be built?
It is not yet sure that the conduit will be built at all. The costs for the feasibility study alone are estimated at 15 Million US $. If the result of the feasibility study is positive, then the canal would be built provided the political and financial conditions are satisfying. Start of works prior to 2013 does not seem realistic even if foreign investors would bear the costs of 5 billion US $.

4. What do supporters say about the planned Peace Conduit?
For the supporters - mainly policy makers and bureaucrats in the riparian countries of the Dead Sea - the conduit is the only means to save the Dead Sea. The Peace Conduit could meet the fresh water demands of the region and prevent the drying up of the Dead Sea. As this initiative is jointly supported by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian governments, it is an important step towards co-operation and peace in the Middle East according to the advocates of this project.

5. What do opponents say about the planned Peace Conduit?
Sceptical comments come from regional and international environmental organisations, scientists and representatives of the mineral mining industry at the Dead Sea. Though all parties support joint approaches to save the Dead Sea, from the opponents point of view, other options should be examined in order to provide sufficient water for man and nature in the Dead Sea region.

There are still additional questions to be answered:

a. With the salt concentration of the Dead Sea water being ten times higher than the Red Sea, the mixing of these waters are bound to have an impact on the Dead Sea. (e.g. Israeli scientists forecast the development of gypsum and algae in the lake). How can negative impacts be prevented?

b. What are the dangers of water intake and changes of currents on the coral reefs of the Red Sea?

c. What happens in case of a leakage of the salt water canal which passes valuable groundwater reserves?

d. What happens to the conduit, the desalination plant and the hydroelectric power station if the Dead Sea reaches its normal level?

e. Will the canal and the drinking water supply be privatised?

f. What about the pricing of the drinking water in view of the high investment and operation costs for the private households?

g. Which alternative measures will be taken by the relevant countries to prevent drying up of the Dead Sea if the outcome of the feasibility study is negative or if the funding of the Peace Conduit cannot be assured?

h. What can be done to prevent further dropping of the water level and the daily formation of large sink holes until 2011, the projected start of the construction of the conduit?

Opponents fear that despite the possible construction of the canal, "business as usual" will go on; e.g. continued shoreline construction of tourism and recreational facilities, careless use of the resource water and discharge of untreated sewage in the Dead Sea.

For years, Friends of the Earth Middle East has demanded the implementation of a sustainable development plan to replace the uncontrolled competition for the scarce water resources between the countries.
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