Cautious thumbs-up for Red-Dead project feasibility

The large-scale conveyance of seawater from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea is technically possible and could deliver large amounts of desalinated water using conventional processes.

This is among the preliminary conclusions of the Red Sea – Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program posted on the World Bank/RDC website on 13 December 2011 in the form of a Q&A session.

The feasibility of an 850 million m³/year desalination plant sited at the southern end of the Dead Sea was examined, and the survey believes that a plant this size would substantially address the issue of sustainable access to water in the region.

The estimated cost of a full-scale conveyance project, including the supply pipes to urban centers, would be over US$ 10 billion, says the study. It also points to risks in mixing seawater and/or desalination brine with the Dead Sea water “especially when the amounts exceed 300 million m³/year”.

A conveyance project would also pose environmental and social impacts, says the report, mostly during construction. Through various studies, these impacts have been evaluated in terms of alternatives and measures to mitigate, manage and monitor such impacts.

In the event of the beneficiary parties deciding to go ahead with the project, says the study, there would have to be further environmental and social assessments, project-specific technical studies and evaluations, the conduct of project-level public consultations and the disclosure of project-specific information. Therefore the five study-program reports produced recently, while useful to inform any future work, cannot be considered exhaustive or conclusive for the purposes of any future plans and construction.

The draft final reports on the Study Program should be available on the website early in 2012. These will be the basis for public consultations in the region. Executive summaries of the draft final feasibility study, the draft final environmental and social assessment study and the draft final study of alternatives will be available on the website in Arabic, English and Hebrew.