Very quietly, and with little international attention, one of the most delicate and interesting engineering projects in the Middle East took a big step forward this month: the mutual Jordanian/Israeli Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Project was published to investors for the development and execution of the project’s first phase. The project includes a large desalination plant which will be built in Jordanian Aqaba, near Eilat, and will eventually result in fresh water for the thirsty Kingdom of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel's Arava (southern desert) region. The agreement was signed by the three parties in 2013 at the World Bank in Washington, DC.
Here comes the interesting part: the brine from the desalination will be conveyed all the way north to the shrinking Dead Sea. Scientists will carefully test the environmental implications and hopefully proceed to the next phase, which would use larger amounts of brine and seawater to stabilize the Dead Sea's sustainability.
Another bright note: this project, among others, happens to be wonderfully presented in Wexner Heritage Program alum Seth Siegel's (NY/Skadden) recently published book, Let There Be Water: Israel's Solution for a Water-Starved World.
For me, this project is a huge symbol of hope as all
parties, against all odds, are joining together to
promote the well-being of all in the area. Using water as an engine for
prosperity rather than a source for dispute is an uncommon step these days.
Tami Shor, a Wexner Israel Fellowship alum (Class 23), is the Senior Deputy to the Director of the Israeli Water Authority. She is in charge of the Regulation Division. Currently, Tami is on a sabbatical year in New Jersey. Tami has worked for the Water Authority and the Water Commissioner Office for the past 11 years in a variety of roles, among them head of the Operations Department, serving as the leader of the national water crisis team in 2008-2009. Tami received her BSc and MSc degrees from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Civil Engineering and Management of Water Resources and started her professional course as a regional water engineer in Mekorot, the Israeli National Water Company. Tami can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.