Jordan River Expected to Run Dry by 2011

The Jordan River, once a beautiful river with rapids and waterfalls and sacred to the religions of Judaism and Christianity, could run dry by 2011.

[social_buttons]Environmentalists from Friends of the Earth, Middle East (FoEME) said that the river “has been reduced to a trickle south of the Sea of Galilee, devastated by overexploitation, pollution and lack of regional management,” with more than 98% of the river’s flow having been diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan over the years.

“The remaining flow consists primarily of sewage, fish pond water, agricultural run-off and saline water,” the environmentalists from Israel, Jordan and the West Bank said in the report to be presented in Amman on Monday. “Without concrete action, the LJR (lower Jordan River) is expected to run dry at the end of 2011.”

The Jordan runs 217 kilometres from the Syria-Lebanon border, down through Israel and into the Sea of Galilee, forming the border between the Kingdom of Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west before entering the Dead Sea. The river once had a flow of 1.3 billion cubic metres a year, but that number has diminished to an estimated 20 to 30 million cubic metres.

In 1847 a US naval officer by the name of W.F. Lynch led an expedition along the river and described navigating down rapids and waterfalls. In the postcard to the left by “Lady Photographer” Karimeh Abbud is an image of the Jordan River circa 1925.

Today the river has been diverted, dammed and sourced too many times. Raw sewage gushes into the river at points leaving it brackish and horrible. Despite this, however, thousands of pilgrims still make the journey each year to step into the river that is believed to be the place where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist.

FoEME believes that the only way to help the Jordan River survive is to release huge amounts of fresh water into the river. Ironically, if some of the sewage being dumped into the river is halted – which is in the plans – it could actually hurt the river further unless additional measures are taken to reduce the salinity of the water already flowing through the river.

“A new study we commissioned reveals that we have lost at least 50 percent of biodiversity in and around the river due to the near total diversion of fresh water, and that some 400 million cubic metres of water annually are urgently needed to be returned to the river to bring it back to life,” said Munqeth Mehyar, FoEME’s Jordanian director.

FoEME director for Israel Gidon Bromberg said that “no one can say this is holy water. No one can say this is an acceptable state for a river this famous worldwide.” Personally, I say that no one can say this is an acceptable sate for ANY river worldwide, famous or not!

Source: Friends of the Earth, Middle East

Image Source: Tracy Hunter

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