At a decline since 1970 of three feet a year and in the last fifty years a water level drop of over eighty feet, the dead sea is dying. The sea is
expected to drop over 60 more feet in the next twenty years and nothing will stop the decline according to experts. The drop in the sea level is being
blamed on many factors including the River Jordan drying up and water from the dead sea being diverted for drinking water and agricultural purposes.
The domino effect of the lowered water levels have had a drastic impact on wildlife reserves along the shores of the sea which is a key resting place
for migrating birds travelling between Europe and Africa.
EIN GEDI, When the Ein Gedi Spa opened in 1986 to pamper visitors with massages, mud wraps and therapeutic swims, customers walked just a few steps
from the main building to take their salty dip in the Dead Sea.
Nineteen years later, the water level has dropped so drastically that the shoreline is three-quarters of a mile away. A red tractor hauls customers to
the spa's beach and back in covered wagons.
The main problem, experts agree, is that most of the water that once flowed into the sea -- the saltiest large body of water in the world and, at
1,371 feet below sea level, the lowest point on Earth -- is being diverted for drinking water and agriculture, so there is not enough to offset the
high evaporation rate. In addition, Israeli and Jordanian industries on the south end of the sea are letting 180 million gallons of the mineral-rich
water evaporate every day -- about 66 billion gallons a year -- to extract chemicals.
The best hope for a solution, some believe, is to pump salt water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea via a proposed 120-mile Red-Dead Canal, a $5
billion project that the Jordanian government is pursuing with international donors. The World Bank
will help fund a $20 million study of the
The Dead Sea covers about 250 square miles in a deep valley bordered by Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. But to understand why the sea is dying,
begin about 60 miles north, at a spot just below the Sea of Galilee that today is the northernmost source of water for the lower Jordan River -- an
open drain that pumps out 720,000 gallons of raw sewage a day.
Environmentalists say that the Dead Sea Works evaporation ponds are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the annual drop in the Dead Sea and that the
company, which just had its state concession extended to 2030, is reaping a financial bonanza from the increased concentration of minerals in the
water. "They are the only ones making good money. They want the water to decline," said the Environmental Ministry's Cohen.
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The water level drop has created huge sinkholes and mudflats and today every single tributary and major spring that flowed into the River Jordan is
dammed or diverted by the countries bordering the Dead Sea.
The River Jordan which is believed to be the christening spot of Jesus is now kept alive by sewerage.