The Dead Sea is beating a hasty retreat because we aren’t replenishing it with fresh water from its primary tributary The Jordan River. Instead Syria, The Kingdom of Jordan, The Palestinian Authority and The State of Israel are all diverting and drawing water from the Jordan River and its tributaries thereby reducing the amount of fresh water that enters the Dead Sea. Statistics for Syrian water use from the Banias Spring one of the tributaries of the Jordan River are not available. However, it is known that The Kingdom of Jordan draws 75% of its water supply from the Jordan River and its tributaries, and The Palestinian Authority and The State of Israel jointly draw 60% of their water supply from the Jordan River and its tributaries. Besides the necessary use of fresh water by these four nations environmental changes caused by global warming and regional drought have caused the rapid and increased evaporation of the Dead Sea resulting in serious erosion damage to the Dead Sea and the surrounding area. Simply stated the balance between water input and evaporation is tilted in favor of evaporation and erosion and the level of the Dead Sea keeps going down. In 1985 the Dead Sea was at 390.5 meters (1281.2 feet) BELOW Sea Level, today the Dead Sea is at 417.5 meters (1369.6 feet) BELOW Sea Level. That means that in 27 years the Dead Sea has lost 1 meter (3.3 feet) of water PER YEAR for a total loss of 27 meters (88.6 feet)! A joint international project between The Kingdom of Jordan and The State of Israel has been proposed to bring water into the Dead Sea from the Red Sea via a canal to maintain the current levels but as of yet no real plans have been made.
The following three photographs illustrate the results of erosion.
In this first photograph taken from the balcony of The Ein Gedi Sea of Spa, the reeds visible between the blue roof tops and the thatch sun cover shady areas mark where the shore line was in 1985.
In this second photograph taken closer to the current sea shore, the end of the boardwalk with its sign warning “slippery when wet” is where the shore line was in 1995.
The actual shore is a short walking distance from the end of the boardwalk. Here is the current shore line as seen from the end of the boardwalk in the previous photograph.
While the following two signs may seem humorous they are currently stark sign post announcing the loss of shore line since 1995.
This last sign warning us “Do Not Leave The Path – Deep Mud” may be taken as good advice for this particular area near The Ein Gedi Sea of Spa as well as providing us with a good general philosophical view on life. Its true meaning comes through in the Hebrew warning which clearly states “Swallowing Mud” meaning that if one leaves the path one falls into a dangerous mix of “quick” mud, clay and sand!
The real questions are: Why aren’t the governments of The Kingdom of Jordan, The Palestinian Authority and The State of Israel each with direct access to the Dead Sea reading the signs? Are they just going to wait until we lose one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders? Why can’t they see that The Dead Sea itself is boldly offering a “salty peace”!
All photographs for this blog post are by Isa David-Ben-Rafael and are owned by IsraeLightly