The Jordan River Has Some New Good Water Neighbors
photo © Argenberg
Back in July, TreeHugger Jesse wrote about the Red Sea to Dea Sea ‘Peace Conduit’ plan to connect the two bodies of water and hopefully revitalize the receding waters of the Dead Sea. The plan is controversial and some groups say that simply revitalizing and repairing the flow of the Jordan River would be a more cost-effective and ecologically sound solution to the problem.
At least one group isn’t waiting for regional governments to do something about preserving the Jordan, Friends of the Earth Middle East is taking matters into its own hands. A new article in Yale Environment 360 explains what’s going on:
The Good Water Neighbors
...with regional governments taking little action, Friends of the Earth Middle East has stepped in to push for measures that will gradually return water to the Jordan. Our approach is two-pronged: The first is a program called Good Water Neighbors , in which we work with nine river communities — four Jordanian, three Israeli, and two Palestinian, all located on opposite banks — to conserve water and educate people about the value of the Jordan and its wetlands. The second, and more challenging, task is to persuade national leaders to make the tough choices that will revitalize the Jordan: charging more for water, removing large subsidies to agricultural water users, and adopting large-scale conservation programs.
Water Conservation & Rainwater Harvesting Programs
In each community, a staff person from Friends of the Earth Middle East, who is a local resident, has pushed an ambitious agenda with adults and youth. The teams have begun water conservation and rainwater harvesting programs in schools and other buildings. They have publicized the plight of the river and have gathered 15,000 signatures on petitions that were presented to elected officials. They have persuaded Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian mayors from both banks to sign memoranda of understanding, committing themselves to help bring the river back to life.
The Way Forward...
What is needed now is action from the Israeli and Jordanian governments, hopefully to be joined in the near future by Syria. They could start by creating an international commission to manage the Jordan, similar to the commissions that govern North America’s Great Lakes and Europe’s Rhine River. Regional governments and international donor states, including the U.S., also need to take a hard look at the proposed Red Sea-Dead Sea canal, a potential boondoggle that could cause major problems, including mixing the marine water of the Red Sea with the fresh water of the Dead Sea, which could change the composition of the Dead Sea and cause algal blooms.
Check out the full article, :: Will the Jordan River Keep on Flowing, for a good introduction to the history of the issue and more detail about the efforts of Friends of the Earth Middle East.