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World Bank says Dead Sea project feasible

Jan. 16, 2013 at 7:11 AM

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The World Bank says a 180-kilometer (112 mile) conduit from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea to arrest the latter's declining water level is feasible.

Fearing the rapidly declining Dead Sea may disappear, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority seven years ago asked the World Bank to examine ways to address the situation. In a report published last week, the World Bank said a tunnel, with canals in parts and a pipeline, as well as desalination plants and pumping stations, would be feasible from an engineering, environmental and economic standpoint. The price tag was estimated at $10 billion.

The project's goals are to stabilize the shrinking Dead Sea, supply water and electricity to countries in the area, and generate regional cooperation to promote peace, the World Bank said on its website.

"The declining water level of the Dead Sea has serious and far reaching environmental, social and economic consequences for the Dead Sea region and beyond. Some of these consequences may soon become irreversible," the site said.

The report was welcomed by the Regional Development Ministry but the Friends of the Earth Middle East said the idea should be buried, Haaretz said Wednesday.

The World Bank acknowledged the project could have some negative environmental consequences, including possible algae growth in the Dead Sea and leakage from pipes, but recommended starting with a small pilot project, the paper said.

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