Opportunities & Implications of Releasing Treated Effluent in Lower Stretches of Jordan River and Dead Sea

Desk Study

This report presents a creative out of the box analysis of how to rehabilitate the lower stretches of the Jordan River and help stabilize the Dead Sea water level by introducing treated effluent into the basin.

The Dead Sea, bordered by Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, is a natural wonder with unique geological, ecological, and historical importance that is valued world-wide by the general public, both locally and globally, as well as by scientists, scholars, and environmentalists. Its hypersaline waters are rich in minerals that have therapeutic benefits and considerable economic value. Its unique desert climate, fresh spring waters, vegetation and biota, and majestic archeological sites attract millions of tourists that support communities from all over the region.

However, the Dead Sea basin ecosystem is suffering from several major threats: unsustainable water management policies that originated in the early 1960s, water diversion from the Upper Jordan River, the principal feeder of the Dead Sea, in addition to the construction of many upstream dams, together decrease the water flow into the Dead Sea. The construction of artificial evaporation ponds by the Israeli and Jordanian mineral extraction industries at the southern end of the Dead Sea have contributed to this drastic decline in water flow and magnified the impact of the shortages in water availability. Additionally, natural factors such as increased evaporation due to temperature rise as part of the global climate change have an adverse impact on the Dead Sea ecosystem. These impacts on the Dead Sea as a terminal lake with a sensitive water balance clearly represents non-sustainable interventions and an ecological catastrophe, which requires immediate attention. Currently, the lake level drops more than one meter per year, and since the 1960s the level has fallen tens of meters from its natural level, which resulted in more than 6,000 sinkholes, exposure of the marginal shallow lake floor, and rapid incision along its retreating landscape. This environmental catastrophe destroys the natural environment and puts in danger the future existence of infrastructure and tourism.

The results of this report may lead to a new approach to Dead Sea stabilization and Jordan River rehabilitation as well as increase the feasibility of the EcoPeace Jordan Valley Master Plan. Furthermore, the results of this study may inform rehabilitation for other lakes around the world such as Lake Alberta in south Australia, Lake Urmia in Iran, the Aral Sea and Lake Chad that are increasingly saline, desiccating, and shrinking due to climate change and anthropogenic use of their waters.


Daniela Diegelmann

Daniela Diegelmann bild

Leiterin des Regionalprogramms Energiesicherheit und Klimawandel Naher Osten und Nordafrika (REMENA)

Daniela.Diegelmann@kas.de +212 5 37 67 04 13/14 +212 5 37 67 04 15

Franziska Fabritius

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

franziska.fabritius@kas.de +212 5 37 67 04 13/14 +212 5 37 67 04 15