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Threatened Lake of the Year 2006: Dead Sea, Israel, Jordan and Palestine
 
 
The Middle East’s most famous lake, the Dead Sea, is dying
Every year on the occasion of World Wetlands Day, the Global Nature Fund (GNF), an international foundation for the protection of environment and nature, highlights the threatened state of a unique lake to the world. In 2006 GNF has declared the Dead Sea situated in the Middle East as the "Threatened Lake of the Year." GNF together with its local partner EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) throughout the year 2006 will focus attention on the dramatic decline of the Dead Sea, the demise of its ecology, the loss of its tourist potential and the need to reverse the situation.
 
 
The Dead Sea lies in the heart of the Great Rift Valley at the southern outlet of the Jordan River. It is the world’s saltiest large water body, and is situated at the lowest point on earth. The Dead Sea region is internationally known for its unique geographical form, desert wilderness, and historical sites that include Jesus's baptism, Masada, and Mt. Nebo. The lake attracts tourists worldwide who bathe in its waters for its unique medicinal qualities.
 

Desiccated sludge surfaces and earth irruptions after the water reduction

 

The Dead Sea has already lost over 1/3 of its surface area. The shoreline is expected to drop from -413 meters to -430 meters by the year 2020. Construction of dams, storage reservoirs, canals and pumping stations have greatly reduced water inflows to the Dead Sea. While some of this water is being used by the Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians for basic domestic consumption, most goes towards highly subsidized and inefficient agriculture.

 

"Despite its fame and uniqueness to the world, the Dead Sea is drying up fast" said Mr. Munqeth Mehyar, the Jordanian Chair of FoEME. "The Dead Sea which is actually a lake is dropping by a meter per year mostly due to the diversion of the waters of the Jordan River that had naturally fed the lake" he continued.


The GNF partner organization FoEME is leading an advocacy campaign in Israel, Jordan and Palestine to register the Dead Sea as a World Heritage site and is calling on the local governments to release enough water down the Jordan River to prevent the continued demise of the Dead Sea.

 

"The Dead Sea and its surrounding ecosystems including the unique wetlands are of international value while at the same time under massive human pressure." said Marion Hammerl, President of the GNF. "With the declaration as 'Lake of the Year' we want to draw attention to the need to rehabilitate and conserve one of the world’s most famous lakes"

 
 
To save the Dead Sea the governments of Israel and Jordan proposed the building of a canal linking the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. This plan raises many environmental questions about the impact of pumping water out of the Gulf of Aqaba on the coral reefs or the threat of gypsum, and other problems from the mixing of Dead Sea brime with marine water. FoEME is presently undertaking an independent environmental assessment of the proposed canal project.
 

Run of the planned canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea

 
 
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