The expected impact of the "peace conduit" project (The Red Sea - Dead Sea Pipeline) on the Dead Sea

Ittai Gavrieli*, Amos Bein, Aharon Oren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Dead Sea is a severely disturbed ecosystem, greatly damaged by anthropogenic intervention in its water balance. During the 20th century, the Dead Sea level dropped by more than 25 meters, and presently (2003) it is at about 416 meters below mean sea level. This negative water balance is mainly due to the diversion of water from the catchment area of the lake by Israel, Jordan and Syria. During the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development Israel and Jordan jointly announced their interest in saving the Dead Sea by constructing the "Peace Conduit" that will pipe water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. The inflow of seawater (or reject brine after desalinization) into the Dead Sea will have a major impact on its limnology, geochemistry and biology. During the filling stage, relatively diluted surface water will form and the rate of evaporation will therefore increase. Dilution of the surface water will most likely result in microbial blooming whose duration is not known, while the lower water layer is likely to develop reducing conditions, including bacterial sulfate reduction and presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Mixing between the calcium-rich Dead Sea brine and the sulfate-rich seawater will result in gypsum precipitation (CaSO4·2H2O). Once the target level is reached, inflow will be outbalanced by evaporation and salinity of the surface water will increase due to accumulation of seawater-salts. The water column will re-mix when the density of the surface water will equal that of the lower water column. In spite of its large volume and high salinity relative to that of the inflowing water, over the long run the composition of this unique lake will change. Before a decision is made on the planning and construction of the Conduit, it is essential that the long term evolution and characteristics of the "renewed" Dead Sea be known and anticipated changes examined. Once decided upon, the planning and construction of the Conduit should be conducted so as to minimize possible negative impacts of seawater introduction on the Dead Sea. This can only be achieved through a thorough understanding of the expected changes in the limnological physical/chemical characteristics of the Dead Sea and its unique brine.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
JournalMitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2005

Keywords

  • Brines
  • Dead Sea
  • Desalinization
  • Gypsum precipitation
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Microbial blooming
  • Peace Conduit
  • Sustainable development
  • Water balance
  • Water level

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