Raising the Dead without a Red Sea-Dead Sea project? Hydro-economics and governance
- Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Utah Water Research Laboratory, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA
Abstract. Seven decades of extractions have dramatically reduced Jordan River flows, lowered the Dead Sea level, opened sink holes, and caused other environmental problems. The fix Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinians propose would build an expensive multipurpose conveyance project from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea that would also generate hydropower and desalinate water. This paper compares the Red-Dead project to alternatives that may also raise the Dead Sea level. Hydro-economic model results for the Jordan-Israel-Palestinian inter-tied water systems show two restoration alternatives are more economically viable than the proposed Red-Dead project. Many decentralized new supply, wastewater reuse, conveyance, conservation, and leak reduction projects and programs in each country can together increase economic benefits and reliably deliver up to 900 MCM yr−1 to the Dead Sea. Similarly, a smaller Red-Dead project that only generates hydropower can deliver large flows to the Dead Sea when the sale price of generated electricity is sufficiently high. However, for all restoration options, net benefits fall and water scarcity rises as flows to the Dead Sea increase. This finding suggests (i) each country has no individual incentive to return water to the Dead Sea, and (ii) outside institutions that seek to raise the Dead must also offer countries direct incentives to deliver water to the Sea besides building the countries new infrastructure.