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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

The Dying Dead Sea

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Oct 27, 2009 10:43:32 AM

Genya Mallach - CSP
As I was riding on a bus towards one of the world’s oldest ecological treasures, a sad site appeared; the famous Ein Gedi Resourt that attracted tourists from all over the world (and once was a few meters away from the water) now sits nearly 700 meters away from the waters of the Dead Sea. It’s great to be in the biggest natural SPA in the world, whose mud contains over 21 different minerals and said to have healing properties.

People from all over the world flock to this region to experience the atmosphere of the lowest spot of the earth and to also float on the mineral rich water, because it’s too hard put your feet down to the bottom, even if you are only 3 feet deep. The sea lies approximately 1,300 feet below the sea level, is approximately 76 km long, up to 18 km wide and it is 400 meters deep at the deepest point. Over the last 20 years the level of the sea has dropped by approximately one meter per year.

The sad part is that this magnificent wonder is disappearing and there is very little that can be done. One major reason is that the waters of the Jordan river, which once flowed into the sea, now merely is a trickle by the time it gets down to the sea. Most of it is being diverted for agriculture and drinking water. Also, this mineral rich water is being evaporated because of the industrial plants that extract the minerals. The evaporative losses are way too greater than the make-up from the Jordan river.

There have been several proposals to pump the water from the Mediterranean Sea or from the Red Sea, however, the Israeli experts claim that chemical and biological reactions produced by mixing Dead Sea water with seawater could change the blue color of the Dead Sea and may create deadly gases.

According to Amos Bein of the Geological Survey of Israel, the sea will continue falling about three feet a year for the next 150 years or so, until the water becomes so supersaturated with salt that evaporation effectively stops.  At that point, according to Bein, the surface of the Dead Sea will be one-third smaller and about 434 feet lower than today.  So “it is possible that the Dead Sea will never dry up."

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