SALAM - Background
The Lower Jordan Valley (LJV) suffers, as a region, from strong water scarcity with very low precipitation rates, high potential evaporation and surface runoff, mainly in form of flash-floods, which can hardly be used in a sustainable way. Large water deficits in the region will be contemplated in the near future due to the combined effect of limited resources and a steadily increasing demand for water (domestic and agricultural and to a lesser extent industrial). The scarce water resources of the LJV are shared and utilized by Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian authorities. The Jordan River and the Dead-Sea are the two most important eco-systems of the region. These have been seriously degraded during the last decades by extensive water utilization of the Jordan River sources, which were feeding the system. The Dead-Sea suffers today from a negative water balance and decreasing water level of about 1 m per year. During the least 10 years, Israel abstracts an average of less than 200 MCM/ (Million m3) of water from Lake Kinnereth and supplies, through the Israeli Water Carrier, to the main agglomeration centres in the country. Prior to the implementation of the first seawater desalination plants at the Mediterranean coast, Israel pumped about 800 MCM/a from Lake Kinnereth. The future Israeli development of seawater desalination and waste water reuse are expected to substantially change the country’s water budget situation and reduce the dependency on water produced from the lake.
It is likely, that Israel will add further investments in the construction of seawater desalination plants in order to cope with possible water deficits on National level. Today, the overall capacity of these plants is already about 700 MCM/a. Other investments will be undertaken to strengthen wastewater treatment and reuse in agriculture, resulting in considerable freshwater trade-offs. These measures soon alleviate the Israeli water supply situation and open a door for a discussion on additional water production opportunities and water trade in favour of the LJV with mutual benefits for Israel, Jordan and Palestine. Project initiatives aiming at investigating short- and mid-term complementary solutions to the long-term RSDS-project are still missing.
The motivation of the SALAM initiative relies on the urgent need of the region for water and environmental rehabilitation as well as some positive developments. The main
- The region needs additional water that cannot be supplied from local sources and,
therefore, additional water sources must be suggested
- he ecosystem of the Jordan river requires mitigation measures;
- The Dead Sea urgently needs mitigation measures.