The Ministry of Water and Irrigation has chosen five international consortiums to carry out the first phase of a $1.1 billion conveyance project that will use water from the Red Sea to replenish the rapidly receding Dead Sea.
The consortiums are made up of 20 engineering firms from across North America, Europe, and Asia, the ministry said in a statement, adding that work on the two-year project should begin in 2018.
The conveyance project is expected to transfer 300 million cubic meters of water annually. A desalination plant will also be constructed in Aqaba as part of the 25-year build-operate-transfer deal, along with a series of hydroelectric power plants that will run the length of the conveyance and produce a combined total of 32 megawatts per year.
The Dead Sea’s water level is dropping by around a meter every year. Experts fear the unique salt lake could completely dry out by 2050. Its degradation started in the 1960s when Jordan, Israel, and Syria began to divert water from the Jordan River, the main source for the Dead Sea. Some environmental groups fear the conveyance project could damage the Dead Sea’s fragile ecosystem.