The Dead Sea ("Dead") continues to shrink at a very rapid rate. The diminishing water level has created large sink holes and disruption of underground water tables, among other problems, with a harmful effect on tourism and everyday life. However, this shrinkage, by creating a huge reservoir for the placement of Mediterranean Sea (“Med”) water, has also provided an opportunity to utilize the Med water to produce a vast amount of “green” renewable power and enable the production of desalinated water to meet the foreseeable water needs of the Region. The potential benefits to the Region are extremely significant in economic, political and other respects.
The Red Sea Dead Sea Water Conveyance
The World Bank has been provided approximately $16M by various donor countries, and has been charged to (i) conduct a Feasibility Studies of the Red Sea Dead Sea Conveyance (RSDSC) and (ii) a separate Study of Alternatives that would be presented alongside the RSDSC analysis.
The Feasibility Studies of RSDSC started in 2008. The much-delayed Study of Alternatives began recently. These studies are overseen by a 14 member Steering Committee (2 from the World Bank and 4 each from Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority).
A Better Solution
The Med-Dead/Lake Shalom Project ("Project" or "MD/LS") is a superior alternative to RSDSC; it plans that water from the Med will flow below sea level through a 72km tunnel to a reservoir above Qumran. This water will be released at hours of peak electrical demand to a hydroelectric power plant on the shores of the Dead, generating up to 2500MW as needed. Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel will have access to this Med water for desalination plants to help ease the chronic water shortages in all three areas. The electric power could be sold into the existing electrical grids to pay the cost of the Project.
The Project will lead to many new jobs during construction as well as many permanent jobs, while abundantly available desalinated water will stimulate new investment in self-sustaining agriculture, fish farming, manufacturing and real estate development. Further, replenishing the Dead will revitalize tourism in the area. The unique Dead Sea environment, including the ability for people to float effortlessly, will be preserved in designated areas; returning the Dead to its desirable water level will reinvigorate hotels and other tourist facilities which are now far from the water’s edge.
The Project offers many benefits to all the parties. It will replenish and revitalize the Dead while generating substantial power and usable water for the Region. It will spur investment, strengthen the Palestinian business base, encourage economic development, bring opportunity to all and promote peace in the Middle East.
Med-Dead Lake Shalom Vision Overview
Sea Inlet: An inlet basin will be constructed in a rocky area of the Mediterranean coast near Palmahim. Excavation in the calcareous sandstone will provide material for the building of stone jetty walls to serve the dual purposes of protecting the inlet structures and providing a rock pier fishing area.
The Tunnel: The 72 kilometer long, 10 meter diameter tunnel from the Med to the transition structure in Lake Shalom will be constructed below sea level to allow for natural flow, resulting in energy efficiency by eliminating the need for pumping. It will be lined with a pre-cast segmented reinforced concrete tunnel lining sealed with grout to prevent any inflow of water from the overlying coastal and mountain aquifers. A fail-safe water gate with redundant and manual override controls will control flow into the tunnel. Another gate will control flow from the inlet channel into the inlet basin.
Operational Control: The flow of sea water from the tunnel will be controlled by a transition structure with three water gates, one from the tunnel, one connecting the reservoir and one controlling flow into the penstock to the hydro power plant. It is planned that 41.25 billion cubic meters of water will flow to the Dead the first seven years, generating 38.5 billion kWh of green, renewable energy, and filling the Dead to the desired level of 395 mbsl.
Lake Shalom (Salaam/Peace): The storage reservoir for the tunnel flow will be located in a natural basin on the south branch of Wadi Qumran, by construction of an earthquake resistant dam utilizing spoil from the tunnel boring. The lake will have a surface area of about 3 square kilometers and maximum depth at the dam of 80 meters. Flow from the tunnel will be stored in this reservoir. When the water is released daily during hours of “peak demand”, the surface elevation will decline about three meters. The change in surface elevation will produce a tidal effect for the shoreline and encourage normal Med marine ecology.
This beautiful marine lake, twenty kilometers from Jerusalem, will be a magnet for tourism and residential development. Surely the name, Peace Lake, is suitable for this setting and for the benefits it will bring the Region.
From Reservoir to the Dead Sea: The penstock from the reservoir to the Dead will be designed to provide for 800 cm/sec flow, enough to power 2500 megawatt hydro turbine generator capacity. The power plant can be designed to start at 1800 megawatts and expand to meet increasing demand. Surge chambers will be constructed in the penstock near the hydropower plant to prevent water hammering from sudden closure of a water gate.
Hydro Plant: The hydroelectric plant will require earthquake resistant construction, and will be located in a stable geological formation where the Dead has a very steep shoreline; this will be done to avoid construction in alluvial fill, which is subject to soil liquefaction during an earthquake. The steep shoreline will limit the length of the draft tubes exiting the turbines and increase the efficiency of the plant. The turbine room will be constructed below ground, at the present level of the Dead, inside the stable geological formation at the site selected.
Filling the Dead Sea: Flow from the hydro plant into the Dead will be controlled by an outflow wall. Water will move northward behind the wall to a shallow area where the water can be released without mixing with the deeper Dead water. Exiting water will spread out in the shallow area, producing non-turbulent flow that will layer on top of the much denser Dead water. This layer of Med water on top of the Dead water will be maintained by constant removal and replacement of the top two meters for desalination feed water. This will require development of up to 2 billion cm desalination capacity near Potash City and En Gedi, which will supply water for the Arava. Jordan will have access anywhere on its side of the Dead to Med water for desalination.
Saving the Dead Sea Environment: The Dead Sea "experience" can be preserved in areas designated as Dead Sea Preservation Parks, by constructing (at the time of construction of the Project) dikes above the present Dead Sea level. Large diameter pipes extending through the dikes and down several meters into the existing Dead water will cause the pure Dead water to be pushed up behind the dikes as the Dead fills with water from the Med.
En Gedi is one location where people could experience the buoyancy of the real Dead Sea water while on the other side of the dike, tourists could enjoy recreational boating and fishing in the Med water covering the major part of the Dead.
Floating the Med water on top of the Dead water will create an environment where marine fish can thrive in the deep layer of Med water. Cultivation of valuable edible sea weed will be enabled in ponds utilizing water pumped from the surface layer. The surface layer will be constantly renewed by inflowing Med water while approximately 35 meters of depth accumulates during the first seven years of operation. After the level reaches 395 meters below sea level, 2.5 billion cubic meters of surface water will be removed for desalination via the distillation process leaving 1.5bcm of brine to replace the evaporation; the brine will be returned to the layer between the lower Dead water and the overlying Med water.
Protection of Potash Mining Interests: The potash mining interests in Israel and Jordan can be secured by constructing a dike higher than the level of the Med water, with a large conduit (4 meters diameter) from the deep water through the dike. The Med water sitting on the Dead water will push the pure Dead water up behind the dike. This Dead water will be available at the level of 397meters below sea level, whereas now it is 423mbsl (and will be at 433mbsl by the time a project is built). Since the desalination ponds are at 396 mbsl, the pumping head will be reduced from about 34 meters to 1 meter, saving most of the energy required to pump the Dead Sea water to the evaporation ponds. (See illustration next page) Dead water for Arab Potash will be supplied through the dike that follows the boundary between Jordan and Israel. This is another example of the collaboration that will be an outgrowth of the Project.
Benefits to the Region: The Project will provide economic, political and other benefits to all the parties in the Region. It will replenish and revitalize the Dead Sea; the Dead Sea will become the "live sea", potentially with millions of visiting tourists. It will generate substantial power and usable water and promote cooperation among the parties, thereby spurring the transformation of a barren and forbidding environment into a Peace Valley.
Dead Sea Vision LLC is a limited liability company registered in Delaware, USA, for the purpose of managing the Project. Randolph Gonce, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the company, originated the design concepts for the Project. Michael Brendzel, J. D., who has extensive experience in international business transactions and public interest projects, is Chief Operating Officer.