Jordan to Launch Red Sea-Dead Sea Project

AMMAN, Jordan

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour this week announced the launch of the kingdom’s Red Sea-Dead Sea water conveyance project.

<--break->The nearly $1.4 billion USD project, which will bring about 100 million cubic meters of desalinated water to Jordan, is the “third most important project in the reign of King Abdullah II, after the (Queen Alia International) airport expansion and the Disi Water Conveyance project,” Ammon News quoted the prime minister as saying during a news conference on August 19.

The nearly $1 billion USD Disi Water Conveyance project, which had its first operational tests earlier this summer, will pump water from an underground aquifer along the kingdom’s southern border with Saudi Arabia and transport it north in a 325-kilometer pipe network to Amman and surrounding areas.

The Red Sea-Dead Sea project will involve water sharing and exchanging with Israel, “because we need water in the north, and Israel needs water in the south, so water exchange will take place,” Ensour said. He said Jordan would sell desalinated water to Israel for $1.41 USD per cubic meter, and would purchase some 50 million cubic meters of drinking water per year from the Tiberias reservoir in Israel for $0.42 USD per cubic meter.

Last month, the Jordanian government had announced plans to move ahead with the Aqaba Desalinated Water Pipeline as an initial phase of the project.

“The Red-Dead Sea water project was not started because successive governments failed to give it due attention. In addition, some neighboring countries did not want the project to be implemented as we hoped,” Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazem al Nasser said.

He said the initial phase of the project would desalinate around 85 million cubic meters annually in Aqaba and channel the waste generated into the Dead Sea through a 205-kilometer pipeline.

The water levels in the Dead Sea are decreasing by one meter annually, according to government estimates. Adding the saline wastewater to the sea will help maintain its current levels.

The Aqaba pipeline project involves building a water intake with a capacity of 2.2 billion cubic meters per year on the Red Sea just north of the city of Aqaba. The desalination plant component will produce 85 million cubic meters of water annually, which will be transported to Amman via a 48-kilometer-long pipeline.

Nasser said this week that his ministry will float a tender before the end of the year for the project. 

The goal is to bridge the widening gap between the kingdom’s growing water needs and its available resources. The water deficit is projected to reach 200 million cubic meters per year by 2035.

This story is brought to readers free in association with Singapore International Water Week.