The Red-Dead Deal
Well Watered

A recently-negotiated project will bring water from the Red Sea via a pipeline to the Dead Sea, and in the process generate electricity from the falling liquid to be used to desalinate some of the water for agricultural and drinking purposes. The agreement exists only in principle thus far. But it could be promising.

Published on: December 10, 2013
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  • So since this project finally seems to be getting somewhere, here’s the next one to dream about: bringing water from Turkey through Syria (with the necessary infrastructure creating an obstacle for tanks in the Golan Heights) to Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, as I described here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/jun/16/syria.israelandthepalestinians

    • Jojo Jobxyzone

      Politically – that is about as likely as convincing the Syrian government to decree that all citizens must speak Hebrew (or vice versa)

      • amgarfinkle

        Right.

    • amgarfinkle

      Pipelines through Syria to Israel are pipedreams, sorry to say. Floating water is huge bubble barges is technically feasible, and so is a flex-line run under the Med. The issue is price, as it always has been; and now there are political problems as well. If there is one day, as I hope, an independent Kurdistan that gets along with Turkey, things might change for the better. See Ofra Bengio’s piece on the Kurds!

  • Jojo Jobxyzone

    The MARGINAL cost of desalination today in Israel is about 50 cents a cubic meter. The plants are operating below capacity because there is no shortage of water. The cost to consumers is more than $3 per cubic meter – so there is still a perception of shortage (the government and the municipalities pocket most of the difference). However, the water scarcity issue in that part of the world is rapidly becoming an issue of the past.

    • amgarfinkle

      Well, the cost to consumers includes infrastructure maintenance, Mekorot salaries and more. Cost to consumers is not the same, moreover, as cost to farmers in Israel–not sure what the tariff is today. One of the reasons the problem has abated somewhat in Israel is that kibbutzim and moshavim do much less agriculture and more manufacturing than they used to, which makes a certain amount of sense. But I don’t think it’s correct to say that the water scarcity issue is entirely a thing of the past. It certainly isn’t in Jordan and even in the Territories.

      • Jojo Jobxyzone

        Take a look at the official Israeli water authority page:
        http://www.water.gov.il/Hebrew/Rates/Pages/Rates.aspx

        Only 1 shekel out of 10 is the actual cost of desalination. The rest of the cost structure will not be affected by this project. So economically this project has little significance. Politically – maybe.

  • Pat

    I’ve been curious for many years; thanks for explaining. Do the natural gas reserves discovered in the Med affect the viability? Who gets the water?

    • amgarfinkle

      I don’t think the natural gas issue overlaps very much, except insofar as more energy changes the cost of electricity to desalinate, potentially. As for who gets the water, good question. The Jordanians need it more than the Israelis, but it’ll mainly be Israeli technology that generates the juice; so I imagine some kind of discounted pricing scheme will come into play. But we’re a ways off from deciding such matters once and for all. If this has been discussed, and I’m inclined to think it has been, I am not privy to the details.

      • Pat

        Merci for the reply. Such re-naturalization projects should be a signpost for what we are to do to solve the challenges of today’s world, most importantly that of large-scale employment and free trade opportunities for all in order to seize the world stage from radicals and doomsayers. Water will become an essential and valuable resource as populations mushroom; by way of example,the years of wrangling over water rights and desalination on the Monterey peninsula in Ca., one of the planet’s wealthiest places.

  • Fat_Man

    Here a couple of links with more details:

    “Israel, Jordan, PA agree to build Red Sea-Dead Sea link”

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-jordan-pa-agree-to-build-red-sea-dead-sea-link/

    “Environmental Science: New life for the Dead Sea?”. A conduit from the Red Sea could restore the disappearing Dead Sea and slake the region’s thirst. But such a massive engineering project could have untold effects, reports Josie Glausiusz. Published online 21 April 2010 | Nature 464, 1118-1120 (2010)

    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100421/full/4641118a.html

    • Bill_Woods

      Not a lot of consensus on the cost:
      Times: “The Red Sea-Dead Sea canal, known informally as the Red-Dead project, is expected to cost $300-$400 million.”
      Wash Post: “with estimated construction costs for the plant and pipeline running anywhere from $500 million to about $1 billion.”
      Nature: “… the conduit, which would cost billions of dollars to build.”

      • amgarfinkle

        That’s right, which shows that the agreement is not fully cooked yet, as have been the Syria and Iran “agreements.” The Kerry folks are so eager for “successes” that they’ll trot out pretty much anything, uncooked, unwashed, unverified.

  • Fat_Man

    This the best news to come out of these countries in many
    years. This is just the sort of agreement that they should focus on.
    Short range, win-win.

    The current Kerry/Obama peace negotiations are DoA. The Hamas/Fata
    split will not allow Abbas to negotiate any peace without triggering a
    civil war. Only our clueless administration is unaware of that.

    WRM is always pointing out how utterly inane and useless the green
    movement is. Their reflexive opposition to this project would be
    comical, if there were not a risk of it slowing the project down, and
    damaging the prospects for peace in this most volatile part of the
    world.

    For the love of God, greenies, for this one time, just shut your yaps.

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