Dead and Dying

Written by Keean Silvestri
Published March 6, 2019

Sample Image Source 2019

The Dead Sea is a popular tourist attraction known for its salty waters and turquoise color. Located in Asia the Dead Sea’s eastern shore belongs to Jordan, and the southern half of its western shore belongs to Israel. It is surrounded by mountains and has deserts spanning in all directions. The Dead sea is the lowest body of water on earth but is receding at an alarming rate. Nothing has been done to try and prevent this despite the water line receding by about one meter or three feet each year.

One major reason for the water levels lowering is that the Dead Sea is losing water faster than it is receiving it due to evaporation. Until the 1960’s the amount of water flowing into the dead sea was equal to the loss from evaporation. The Dead Sea required the constant flow of water from rivers and streams such as the Jordan River and Yarmouk stream to remain full but in the 1960s, a major pumping station was built at the Sea of Galilee which diverted water from the upper part of the Jordan River into a pipeline system serving many parts of Israel. Ten years later in the 1970s Syria and Jordan started diverting water from the Yarmouk stream, which had also fed the Dead Sea, for a similar purpose. Climate change is also to blame. Rainfall in the middle east has decreased by about 10% since the 1950’s.

As the water continues to evaporate the remaining water will be so saturated in salt that evaporation will cease to happen. The salinity is raising and will eventually reach a new equilibrium where all that will be left is a mineral rich pool much smaller than the current Dead Sea. In 2015, Israel and Jordan signed an agreement stating, that in an attempt to stabilize the water level, would invest $9 million to solve the problem. They expressed a plan to pump 300 million cubic meters of water into the Dead Sea every year, and building a canal connecting it with the Red Sea that will supply both countries with water. Although this plan may not refill the Dead Sea to where it once was, hopefully it can prevent any further loss due to evaporation.

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