The Red-Dead Project

It’s beginning to look as if the Red-Dead Project – an imaginative (some would say fanciful) scheme to channel water from the Red Sea into the Dead Sea – may one day come to fruition.

The Jordan Times reports that Egypt has dropped its reservations to the project, which was jointly agreed upon in 2005 by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Apparently some Egyptians were under the misapprehension that it would take away revenue from the Suez Canal.

The Dead Sea is shrinking fast, and the idea is to top it up with de-salinated seawater. Since the Dead Sea is more than 400 metres below sea level, the height differential could generate hydro power to assist in pumping and de-salinating the seawater. The purified seawater could also be used for agriculture and other purposes.

I’m a bit sceptical because it sounds rather like those designs for “perpetual motion” machines that don’t actually work. Various environmental concerns have been raised and some suggest at more natural solution to the Dead Sea problem would be to restore its original source, the River Jordan, which nowadays is barely a trickle.

Nevertheless, the World Bank is backing it and there’s a wildly enthusiastic write-up from last year in the Jerusalem Post. Obviously there are pluses and minuses, and I’d be interested to hear what readers think of it.

It’s discussed in more detail in a report to the US Congress published in 2008. There’s also a fairly old article here which gives a basic outline of the plan, together with the diagram below. 

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 26 July 2009