The Dead Sea, world's deepest salt lake and one of the oldest natural attractions in the world, is literally dying. Lying at 1,400 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is wedged between Israel, Jordan and the West Bank.
The Famous Dead Sea
It derives its name from the hypersaline water, which prevents marine creatures from thriving.
The Dead Sea has been a haven for Mediterranean travelers who love to float with ease on high-density water. In the olden days, Roman king Herod I made the Dead Sea his spa resort.
Containing 10 times more salt than any other ocean, the Dead Sea is rich in potassium, magnesium, bromide and calcium chloride, which made it world famous for the healing powers. People had been thronging to the sea, seeking a cure for skin, heart and lung conditions.
Damage To The Dead Sea
In a statement, EcoPeace explained that the Dead Sea water levels have fallen more than 80 feet since the beginning of the century because of unhindered development, including tourism-related constructions around the sea.
It also said 2,000 sinkholes were found on the western shores of the Dead Sea, raising concern that surface water is disappearing to the underground.
EcoPeace Middle East added that the lake is fast moving away from the bordering nations at the rate of more than 3 feet per year.
The 15 million-years-old Dead Sea is a lake that drains the watershed of the Jordan River. The crisis is also the fallout of that natural faucet depleting over the years.
"Far and away the biggest cause of the rapid disappearance of the Dead Sea is the lack of water coming into it from its traditional sources — the Jordan River," EcoPeace Middle East said.
Noting that much of the water is taken by the Israel, Jordan and Palestine for domestic consumption, the group said the bulk of the water is going to agriculture that is very subsidized.
Skewed Supply From Jordan River
According to Gidon Bromberg, head of Friends of the Earth in Israel, the demise of the Dead Sea is mainly caused by the interruptions in the Jordan River and the diversions that are blocking the waters running along Jordan to the Dead Sea from the Yarmouk River. This was mainly due to the construction of dams, storage reservoirs and pipelines.
Compounding the problem is tourism development in the region, which is worsening the drainage into the Dead Sea. High-rise hotels and other attractions are choking the water sources and replacing the lost water with sewage.
Just like Yellowstone National Park, the Dead Sea is being "loved to death," EcoPeace Middle East added.
Enhanced mineral and water extractions for the cosmetic industry is also harming the Dead Sea.
Meanwhile, Jordan and Israel inked a deal to replenish the Dead Sea and increase the flow of the Jordan River. Accordingly, a canal from the Red Sea that will pump 300 million cubic meters of water annually to the Dead Sea has been proposed.