A proposal to construct a 180-kilometre long conduit from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea is economically and environmentally feasible, according to draft studies posted online last week by the World Bank.
Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority asked the World Bank to look at the plan in 2005. Channelling water downhill to the salty Dead Sea would help to refill the shrinking lake (see ‘New life for the Dead Sea?’, Nature 464, 1118–1120; 2010). Fears that the Dead Sea might disappear altogether are not unfounded: Israel and Jordan are now diverting water that previously flowed into it, and research in 2011 found that the Dead Sea has disappeared completely in the far-distant past (see ‘The Dead (and departed) Sea‘).
At the same time, water flowing down the conduit would also generate hydroelectricity to run a desalination plant. And — no small thing — the project might aid regional cooperation.
Drafts of the World Bank’s studies on the economics and environmental and social impacts of the idea show that three main concepts were considered: a tunnel, a tunnel with canals in parts and a pipeline. The latter is the recommended project, at a cost of around US$10 billion.
Final reports are expected in April, after a series of public meetings next month.