Jordan River Basin: Who's Water Rights?

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by wesolosk
Last updated 5 years ago

Energy & Environment

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Jordan River Basin: Who's Water Rights?

Jordan River Basin: Who's Water Rights?

Image of the Jordan River (National Geographic)

Geologic Setting of the Jordan River- 250 km long- Drainage area = 17665 km²- Located on the Jordan Rift Valley- 15 km wide depression bound by normal faults on both sides

Saving the Jordan River Video

Details of the Jordan River•Transboundary river shared by Jordan, Syria, Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon•Flows from Upper Jordan -> Sea of Galilee -> Lower Jordan -> Dead Sea•Upper Jordan fed by karstic springs•Lower Jordan fed by Zarga River (wastewater from Amman) and Yarmouk (fed by springs and wadis)•88% of precipitation is lost to evapotranspiration•No agreement between riparians

So Who Deserves the Water?

Table showing the basin area, precipitation, and evapotranspiration in the five sharing riparians

Geologic ImpactChanging the river morphology •Channel width four times as narrow •Increase in sinuosity •Channel incision •Formation of bars •Bank collapses

Local Impact•Serious drought (6 years)•Tension over water allocation (Palestine focus on rights vs Israel focus on needs over rights)•Absence of an agreement, which also means no wastewater treatment plan•Free flowing sewage makes its way to aquifers and rivers•No water management•No sustainability plan•Jordan River is dwindling•Pumped water is only available once a week for some living in Jordan’s capital, Amman•Slowed Palestinian economic development

Mitigation PlanWithout a policy change, the Dead Sea will drop to over 600 meters below sea level in the next 100-200 years. •Transfer water from outside basin to replenish Dead Sea oFrom the Red Sea oFrom Mediterranean Sea •Pros: produce energy for desalination, rehabilitate the Dead Sea •Cons: expensive, environmental impact, political disputeThere have been agreements within certain countries, but ALL RIPARIANS need to form an agreement

Regional Impact•Not only affecting countries containing the Jordan River Basin, but also countries that thrive off of the Dead Sea. •Utilization upstream significantly reduces flow to the Dead Sea•Dead Sea has dropped 22 meters in sea level in the past 68 years (0.32 meters/year)•Chronic depletion of groundwater ->decrease in water table -> decrease in water quality•Sinkholes•Hotels and industries that thrive off of the minerals are declining•Slowing economic development

Global Impact•Mediterranean Action Plan (1975) o Between 16 Mediterranean countries and European community o Prevents, controls, and abates pollution o Today, more than 140 countries are in programs like this•Action Plan for Protection of Marine Environments and Sustainable Development of Coastal Areas of the Mediterranean (1995) o Replaced MAP o Shift from pollution prevention to sustainable development•Jordan River and Dead Sea Water Forum (2008) oFocus on sustainable practices and better relationships oHopefully lead to an establishment of agreement

Catherine Wesoloski

Map of the Jordan River

Map of evapotranspiration in the Jordan River Basin

Graph showing sea level fall in the Dead Sea


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