European Commission Fifth RTD Framework Programme

A Future for The Dead Sea: Options for a More Sustainable Water Management

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The Project

A dropping Dead Sea

What is the problem?

     Israel, Jordan and Palestine share the borders of the Dead Sea Basin. At more than 400 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth, as well as the most saline body of water on the planet . The surface area of the Dead Sea has shrunk by around 30% in the past 20 years, a drop of 12 meters in the water level. The reasons for this decline are well-known: a constant decrease of input from the Jordan River and increased use of other sources, such as natural springs, that supply water to the Dead Sea. The rapidly growing populations in the three countries bordering this area will increase the demand for fresh water. The degradation is also a result of the water management policies of the countries bordering the Dead Sea. This is due in part to the large-scale diversions of water from the upper Jordan for irrigation and municipal services in Israel and Jordan.

Why is it important?

     The Dead Sea is an international natural and cultural heritage. The basin is the origin of some of the world’s oldest human settlements and is an area with sites sacred to Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It is a unique environment for wildlife, containing habitats that support hundreds of plant and animal species, in addition to many bird species, including some that are in danger of extinction. The composition of the Dead Sea itself and the climate of the region provide a unique setting for the treatment of skin diseases, which makes the region appealing to tourists.


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