Environmentalists warned recently that large portions of the biblical Jordan River may dry up by 2011, but have recommended a way to help its rehabilitation.
According to the Associated Press , environmental scientists from Israel, Jordan and Palestine released a report yesterday saying that a wastewater treatment plan by Israel and Jordan will dry up large areas of the river by the end of next year.
Environmentalists warned recently that large portions of the biblical Jordan River may dry up by 2011, but have recommended a way to help its rehabilitation. Credit: David Bjorgen
However, the report called this a good thing, because the treated sewage will go to agriculture use rather than sending the sewage back into the Jordan River.
To rehabilitate the river, they recommended that freshwater be pumped into it, sourced from the Sea of Galilee and the Yarmouk river. The latter is the largest tributary in the Jordan.
They also recommend adding treated wastewater. All these should restore a third of the Jordan River’s former volume, they estimate. The report was commissioned by the Friends of the Earth Middle East, headed by Gidon Bromberg.
Over the last 50 years Israel, Jordan and Syria have been using some 98 percent of the water from the Jordan and its tributaries for agriculture and drinking water. As a result, what was once a gushing river of 4.5 billion cubic feet in the 1930s is now just some 1 billion cubic feet or less.
The Bible has described the Jordan River as “overflowing.” In 1847, a U.S. Naval officer who visited the river described what he called the “deafening roar of the tumultuous waters” according to the AP.
The Jordan flows south from the Sea of Galilee into the Dead Sea. Its border is shared by Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. A Christian Telegraph report called it the site where Christ was baptized, and the place where Christianity began.
According to the Christian Telegraph, the site is also where Israelites entered the Promised Land. Last year some 150,000 Christians visited the place, which is 53 percent more people than those who visited in 2007.
Most visiting Christians immerse themselves in the fresh waters of the Jordan River at Yardenit near the Sea of Galilee in Jordan. Along the portion of the river bordered by Israel, the site is undergoing renovation to accommodate more tourists, according to the AP.