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4. Interdisciplinary analysis and the Jordan River watershed
4.2. Preliminary watershed analysis
4.3. Evaluation framework
4.4. Cooperation-inducing implementation: Three examples
4.5. Conclusions: Water basin analysis and the Jordan River watershed
Legend has it that the headwaters of the Jordan River were originally three separate streams flowing in various directions, and quarrelling constantly over which was the largest and most important. Finally, the streams invited the Lord of the Universe to judge between them. The Lord descended and seated Himself on a small hill between them that, until today, is known as Tel Dan or Tel el-Kadi, Hill of the Judge in both Hebrew and Arabic. "Rivers! Ye are dear to Me, all three. Hearken to My counsel: unite together and ye will indeed be the most important."
And so the Jordan was formed.
In chapter 2, I described the long and contentious hydropolitical history of the Jordan River watershed. I concluded with several policy recommendations informed by the lessons of history. In chapter 3, I suggested an interdisciplinary analytical framework for water conflict analysis, using precepts from the physical sciences, law, political science, economics, game theory, and alternative dispute resolution. In this chapter, I bring the sitespecific lessons from history together with the general guidelines from the analytical framework, in an attempt to address the problems of the Jordan River watershed.
There are actually two distinct problems in the Jordan River watershed. The first is a "water crisis" - too little water supply for too much demand similar to that in many water basins throughout the region and the world. The second problem is the "water conflict" the political tensions brought about by a water crisis in this particular international water basin, which is shared by riparians who have deep and long-standing enmity towards each other.
My approach in this chapter is to address the water crisis by formulating a water development plan for the Jordan basin, using the general guidelines of my analytical framework. In the process, by keeping in mind the lessons of the history of this particular watershed, I may be able to offer suggestions for alleviating some aspects of the water conflict as well.
The general process is as outlined in chapter 3:
- Survey of hydropolitical positions.
- Goal statement and planning horizon.
- Future water supply and demand, water stress.
- Options and viability.
- An agreement for water sharing.
- The mountain aquifer.
- A Med-Dead or Red-Dead Canal.
Preliminary watershed analysis
4.2.1 Survey of hydropolitical positions
4.2.2 Goal statement and planning horizon
4.2.3 Future water supply and demand, "water stress" index
Survey of hydropolitical positions
Before examining possible solutions to the water crisis, it is important to explore the possible opening position of each of the actors in negotiations. The brief, and highly generalized, positions that are listed below are taken from the section on history, as well as from interviews with the water advisers to each of the delegations.
Jordan: The Jordanians might put much of their emphasis on the allocations achieved during the Johnston negotiations. Although they would probably allow for some revisions in Israel's favour, they point out that they are currently being deprived of Yarmuk water from both downstream and up. Israel takes advantage of Jordan's lack of storage capacity to increase its annual intake from the Yarmuk (currently about 90 MCM/yr, versus 25 MCM/yr originally allocated). Meanwhile, Syria has launched a drive to impound Yarmuk headwaters upstream to Jordan, partly with the presumed justification of depriving Israel of this water. Currently 250 MCM/yr is impounded by Syria, with plans for an additional 50 MCM/yr. Jordan hopes that, by reaching agreement with Israel, similar accord will follow with Syria, clearing the way both for allocations closer to those of the Johnston negotiations (originally 377 MCM/yr), and for building a long-planned storage facility at Maqarin. Jordan is also hopeful of reaching an accord with Saudi Arabia on a programme for joint exploitation of a large fossil aquifer underlying their shared border.
West Bank and Gaza Palestinians: The Palestinians, not separately represented during the Johnston negotiations, might base their claims on a combination of past promises and heretofore unacknowledged groundwater rights. Had the water diversions included in the Johnston negotiations been developed, water from two sources would have been delivered to the West Bank. The West Ghor Canal would have brought 70-150 MCM/yr to a narrow agricultural strip parallel to the Jordan River, in addition to up to 300 MCM/yr designated for the Jordan Valley from the Yarmuk and the Jordan rivers. Palestinians also claim first rights to all of the groundwater that originates in the West Bank and Gaza - about 615 MCM/yr and 60 MCM/yr, respectively (see, for example, Zarour and Isaac 1992). Since 1967, Palestinians have objected to Israeli measures to control development of West Bank water resources, including nationalizing and integrating West Bank water with the Israeli grid and limiting agricultural allocations to 1967 levels.
Israel: Israeli claims combine political modifications due from the Johnston negotiations with the concept of "water security." Israel accepts the principles of the Johnston allocations but insists that modifications, reflecting changing geopolitics, be incorporated. For example, Israel claims a greater share of Yarmuk water than was originally allocated on the basis of its obligations to the West Bank since 1967, as well as by rights acquired through its historic use of what it considers to be surplus flow unexploited by the Jordanians. By the same token, Israel considers its historic rights to the mountain aquifer, which originates on the West Bank but which has been tapped by Israel from its side of the Green Line since the 1950s, to be irrevocable and tied to greater issues of security. Measures taken to restrict pumping on the West Bank have been described by Israelis as defensive, necessary to protect their wells and the integrity of the water system as a whole. Unchecked Palestinian water development or pollution in the Judaean hills west of the watershed line, it is argued, could endanger both the quantity and quality of water sources on which the heavily populated coastal plain of Israel relies. Israel's focus for the future might be to try to retain as many of its current sources as possible, and to introduce large-scale desalination projects into the region with international backing.
The specific issues of the water conflict that have to be addressed in the context of solutions to the water crisis include the following:
Goal statement and planning horizon
As suggested in chapter 3, the goal statement remains: "To provide for future water needs for the riparians of the Jordan River watershed while alleviating water-related political pressures." I use a 30-year planning horizon to allow the results of both short-term and longerterm technical and policy options to manifest themselves.
Future water supply and demand, "water stress" index
In order to estimate the water needs over the 30-year time horizon for each entity dependent on the watershed - Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza - I have developed a computer program that will determine future water supply and demand per capita for any number of possible scenarios. Initial conditions, population growth rates, climatic conditions, and technical developments can all be varied to simulate different technical and policy options. All of the screens for the model are collected in appendix V, with initial conditions and explicit and implicit assumptions listed.
The results of several runs, representing different immigration scenarios, are listed in table 4.1. As can be seen, each of the entities is already well past the "water barrier" of manageable capability, defined by Falkenmark (1989a) as 500 m3 per person. If no changes are made, the annual per capita availability will drop in 30 years from 391 to 247 m3 per person in Israel; from 242 to 89 m3 per person in Jordan; from 122 to 46 m3 per person in the West Bank; and from 100 to 38 m3 per person in Gaza - even without any immigration.
Table 4.1 Projected population and water demand, for different immigration scenarios, of entities dependent on the Jordan River watershed
|Water needs (MCM/yr)b||Low/high water deficit (MCM/yr)b|
|Low demand||High demand|
|Israel||1 million immigrants||1991||4.80||1,800||1,800||200/200|
|2 million immigrants||1991||4.80||1,800||1,800||200/200|
|West Bank||No immigration||1991||0.90||115||180||0/65|
a. Assumes 1 million immigrants to Israel by 1993 (as in fact,
was the case), 2 million by 2000; Palestinian immigration is
assumed to be between 1995 and 2005, all to the West Bank.
b. Projections assume constant demand for agriculture, growth to come through technology; low demand assumes urban use grows at current per capita usage; high demand allows 100 m3 per capita for urban use.
c. Projected deficit equals current annual natural potential minus projected demand.
4.3.1 Options and viability
Options and viability
Table 4.2 shows the evaluation framework filled out, qualitatively, for the Jordan River watershed. Relative values are derived from the survey in chapter 3 but are, nevertheless, somewhat subjective. The column labelled "overall viability" has a relative ranking for each option and, in parentheses, the measure that makes an option either particularly positive or negative. As mentioned in chapter 3, this process should be iterative to allow for changes in the system and interaction between the disciplines. Particular attention in future analyses might be paid to the measures that are highlighted.
In general, the relatively higher ranking of unilateral options but the small amounts that result suggest that there is still some hydrologic room to manoeuvre within each political entity, but not much. The relatively large quantities that could be made available if cooperative measures were politically viable suggest a hypothetical amount of water that could be offered at the negotiating table as incentive to cooperate.
The overall rankings of the evaluation framework, as they currently stand, indicate a general four-stage process for water basin development. The initial emphasis would be on unilateral projects, with increasing cooperation and integration as political developments allow. Allowing for some overlap, the four stages of water basin development recommended are:
Table 4.2 Evaluation table for Jordan riparians for tools to decrease demand or increase supply of water
|Population control||+ / + / + / +||+_||-_||= - (pol)|
|Public awareness||-/ + / + / +||+_||+_||= + (econ)|
|Allow price to reflect true costs (incl. na tional water markets)|
|+ / + / + / +||+_||+_||= + (gen)|
|Drip-irrigation||+ / + / + / +||+_||+_||= + (gen)|
|+ / + / + / +||0_||+_||= + (gen)|
|Genetic engineering for drought and sal inity resistance|
|+ / + / + / -||-_||+_||= 0 (econ)|
|Waste-water reclamation||+ / - / + / -||0_||+_||= 0 (env)|
|Increase catchment and storage|
|+ / + / - / -||0_||+_||= 0 (env)|
|Cloud-seeding||- / + / - / -||0_||+_||= - (tech)|
|Desalination||0 / + / + / -||-_||+ _||= 0 (econ)|
|Fossil aquifer develop ment|
|+/ - / - / -||0_||+_||= 0 (tech)|
|Share information and technology|
|+ / + / - / +||+_||- / -||= - (pol)|
|International water mar kets|
|+ / + / - / -||+ / -||= 0 (pol)|
|Interbasin transfers||+ / - / - / -||0_||- / -||= 0 (pol)|
|Regional planning||+ / + / - / +||+_||- / -||= 0 (pol)|
a. Quantity/quality/reliability/environmental impact.
c. National goals (or international: equity/control).
d. pol, political; econ, economic; yen, general; env, environmental; tech, technical.
Negotiate an equitable division of existing resources
Each of the riparians of the Jordan already has water development high on its list of priorities. The history of this basin shows, however, years of accumulated ill will over the division of existing resources. Because the water shortage is basin wide, this option would address each entity's perceptions of the water conflict more than it would add to the regional water budget. However, each party's perceptions of the water conflict are crucial to determining the direction of future development, and the overall issue of control of one's resources can take on the importance of control of one's national destiny. Palestinians and Jordanians should not have cause to feel that Israeli lawns or swimming pools come at the expense of their own agriculture, nor should Israelis have cause to watch Palestinian or Jordanian upstream development projects with trepidation. After 70 years of contested water rights, it would seem that this issue would have to be resolved before any of these hostile parties could be induced to cooperate on regional projects.
In addition to addressing past and present grievances, legal allocations will define the property rights of water resources. This is an important prerequisite to using the market-place to help increase efficiency in supply and demand. Water markets cannot take place, either nationally or internationally, until clear water rights have been established.
Recommendations for how an agreement for water sharing might be reached are offered in the section on implementation, later in this chapter.
Emphasize greater efficiency for water supply and demand
After it is clear who has rights to what water, but before developing intricate and expensive projects for new water supplies, a great return can be achieved simply by investing in the existing system of water supply and demand. Options for increasing efficiency can be attempted either unilaterally, by each country and territory involved, or regionally, with cooperation between the entities in the area. In fact, the scarcity of a resource as critical to economic and physical survival as water may provide inducement to cooperation over other regional issues in the context of peace negotiations. Many of the options that follow are described in more detail in the section on "Physical sciences and technology" in chapter 3.
Israel already encourages efficient agricultural water practices such as drip- and computerized irrigation, and both Israel and Jordan are pursuing policies for waste-water reclamation. More drastic steps, such as moving water away from agriculture and into the industrial sector, are also possible, but clash with national ideologies and entrenched water institutions of nations built around the mystique of the fellah or the kibbutznik. A recent Israeli State Comptroller's report (State of Israel 1990) blamed an annual over-pumping of water resources partially on the historically close relations between the agricultural sector and the Water Commissioner, who is responsible for allocating the nation's water. Water scarcity is not likely to change immigration policies, for similar reasons of ideology. In any event, unilateral measures cannot add more than incrementally to alleviation of the problem for any of the entities involved.
The inextricable link between water and politics suggests several options for easing regional water tensions, as follows.
Efficiency of water use could be enhanced as much as is politically, economically, and technologically possible. Increased efficiency could be obtained, first, by increased economic efficiency through a shift of water use from agricultural to industrial sectors. Although some recommend a shift of as much as 35-40 per cent, it should be remembered that the states involved have security concerns that may preclude their becoming major food importers, even if it is more economical to do so. These concerns should be weighed when determining how much of a shift is warranted.
The second goal could be increased support for research and development of water-saving technology. This could include small-scale applications, such as low-flow shower nozzles and toilets, and larger-scale projects, such as sequential reuse and waste-water treatment, for the agricultural and industrial sectors. The Maqarin Dam might finally be built, if political relations allow. Special emphasis might be placed on desalination technology, again both small and large scale. A regional desalination project, based on the goals of the AgroIndustrial Complex but using a combination of solar power, natural gas, and hydropower rather than nuclear power, might be implemented with many of the regional benefits foreseen in the original plan, as is explored later.
Recommendations for immediate emphasis include the following:
SHARED INFORMATION AND RESEARCH.
The most workable opportunity for cooperation over water is for the entities on both sides of the Jordan River to share what information they have and to develop joint research strategies for the future. Regional water resource planning on, at a minimum, the watershed scale, can be encouraged. In the case of the Jordan River, representatives from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank could work together on watershed management planning. For greater efficiency, the geographic scale of planning could be increased. Planning options multiply as the scale considered and the sources of water resources increase. Allowances should be made for changes in climate and demographics, as well as for increasing understanding of the physical system.
In May 1967, even as tensions were leading to the following week's outbreak of the Six-Day War, the US Departments of Interior and State convened an "International Conference on Water for Peace" in Washington, D.C. Today, as national water demand approaches supplies throughout the Middle East and, in fact, the world, similar forums for dialogue ought to be emphasized. Israeli and Arab expertise in water-saving agricultural practices, waste-water reclamation, and desalination technology should be exchanged and developed together. A 1987 study sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies called for a US-sponsored project for joint information and technology (Starr and Stoll 1987). Clearly, arid areas of the United States would also benefit from such a project. Both Starr (1992) and Kolars (1992) suggest centres for water data sharing and gathering as a means of promoting cooperation. In spring of 1992, a conference on Middle East regional water issues was finally undertaken as part of the regional peace process begun in Madrid. Crea live third-party assistance and influence will be necessary to help the ongoing negotiation process to overcome the obstacles to cooperation that will undoubtedly be encountered.
Alleviation of short-term needs through interbasin water transfers
Along with information and technology, water itself might be moved across borders for mutual benefit. Water transfers to the region have been considered at least since the turn of the century and are enjoying renewed interest. Immediate surpluses could be exploited as a stopgap measure while more elaborate projects are being planned and constructed. Short-term surpluses are currently available in the Litani and Nile systems and, further afield, from Turkey (see appendix I, map 31).
Elisha Kally of Tel Aviv University has dedicated much of his career to developing plans for such cooperative water projects (Kelly 1989). One example is the possibility of storing Yarmuk winter run-off in the Sea of Galilee for use in Jordan, and possibly the West Bank, during the summer. This would save Jordan and Syria the expense of a proposed dam on the Yarmuk River, and at the same time help sweeten the somewhat saline Galilee water for Israeli use. Other possibilities suggested by Kally include transfers of excess surface water from the Nile to Gaza and from the Litani to the West Bank, alleviating desperate shortages without endangering groundwater supplies in the region. Another option, on a slightly larger scale, is the proposed Turkish "Peace Pipeline," a US$20,000 million project to bring fresh water to parched states as far south as the Arabian Peninsula (Starr and Stoll 1988).
One arrangement was developed by Jordan after the extensive Johnston negotiations (1953-1955). In the context of its own national water diversions along the East Ghor, 70-150 MCM/yr was allocated to the West Bank, which at the time was an integral part of Jordan. A siphon was planned to move water from the East Ghor Canal for this purpose, but was never built. Although modern Jordan has its own water problems, it still "owes" this water to the West Bank. This surface water would increase the West Bank water budget by more than 60 per cent and lessen the dangers to Israel of unchecked groundwater development. Jordan more recently has made preliminary investigations into the possibility of importing Euphrates water from Iraq.
The most viable options for the near future include, first, diverting the Litani into the Sea of Galilee, from where it could go to Israel, the West Bank, and/or Jordan. A pipeline along the coast might bring water from the mouth of the Litani as far as Gaza. Integrating Litani water with the Jordan watershed has the added advantage of increased hydropower development - the Jordan terminates 400 m below sea level. If a conventional energy plant were built in Lebanon in the context of regional development, that country might be persuaded to allow greater Litani water through the Qir'awn Dam, where most of the Litani is currently diverted to the Awali watershed for hydropower generation. Costs might be reduced by using existing infrastructure. The TAP line, an abandoned oil pipeline, runs from the Litani, up over the Golan Heights (where a section is currently being used for water delivery), as far as the Persian Gulf. As yet, Lebanon's position has been that the rights to Lebanese water should be retained for Lebanese use. If that were to change, the Litani is poised to be beneficial to any number of regions.
Second, extending the El-Arish pipeline from the Nile to Gaza or to the Negev Desert would allow the same exchanges throughout the region as the addition of Litani water. Increased water in southern Israel, for example, would free water from the northern Jordan to be delivered to Jordan or the West Bank. Although Sudan and Ethiopia may have legal rights to a say in any out-of-basin transfer, an exchange of water-saving technology for water between Israel and Egypt may reduce those claims and allow the water export to proceed for longer into the future (Diner and Wolf 1992).
Third, Turkey, as the only country in the region with a substantial water surplus, is invariably named as a possible source of water imports. Along with the "Peace Pipeline," several smaller projects have been advanced to bring Turkish water to any of a number of states in the area by pipeline, by barge, or in "Medusa bags" each holding 1 MCM. Another proposal, forwarded by Boaz Wachtel, is to pipe 1,100 MCM/yr from the Ataturk Baraji Lake from the Turkish GAP project to the Golan Heights, where an open channel would provide new freshwater supplies and hydropower for Israel, Syria, the West Bank, and Jordan, as well as acting as an antitank barricade on the border between Israel and Syria. Wachtel (1992) estimates the cost of such a project at US$5,000-$7,000 million.
Again, once additional water becomes available, the appropriate exchanges could be made from sources to users, so that the most efficient regional distribution is achieved. However, because these surpluses are extremely tenuous, in terms of both engineering and political viability, it is recommended that these new sources be considered shortterm measures only.
Table 4.3 Viability of interbasin water transfers
|Method of water transfer||Viability measure|
|Litani to Israel||100/good/fair/na||0.14||0.10|
|Nile to Jordan watershed|
|Nile to Gaza||500/fair/good/na||0.20||0.89|
|Nile to Israel||500/fair/good/na||0.20||0.23|
|Turkey to Jordan watershed|
Sources: Litani to Israel transfer, Kally (1989); Nile to
Jordan basin, Dinar and Wolf (1992); Wachtel Plan, Wachtel
(1992); Medusa bags, Cran (1992).
a. Quantity (MCM/yr)/quality (ppm salinity or pollutants)/reliability (flux)/environmental impact
(relative, or cost).
b. Efficiency (price [US$]/m3).
c. Results of the PRINCE Political Accounting System (see appendix IV).
d. No cooperation.
e. na, not assessed.
To explore the most viable options for interbasin water transfers, as well as to provide an example of how the evaluation framework might be approached quantitatively, an assessment of the above projects is provided in table 4.3. Values for a Litani to Israel transfer are taken from Kally (1989). The Nile to Jordan basin water transfer has three options - partial coalitions, with (a) Nile water to Gaza, or (b) Nile water to Israel; and (c) a Grand Coalition, with the cooperation of Egypt, Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank. The values are taken from Dinar and Wolf (1992). Two Turkey to Jordan basin options are offered - the "Wachtel Plan," with a canal/antitank barrier, and transporting water by barge, in "Medusa bags." Values for the two options are from Wachtel (1992), and Cran (1992), respectively. The option of "status quo" (no cooperation) is included for comparison.
As described in the previous chapter, quantity is measured in MCM/yr, quality in ppm salinity or pollutants, reliability is the flux in the system, and environmental impact can be measured relatively or in dollar amounts. Efficiency is calculated as price per cubic metre, and political viability is taken as the results of the PRINCE Political Accounting System, as described in appendix IV. Some qualitative terms are used for values that are not available.
The above evaluation suggests that in terms of technical and economic assessments, all the proposals are fairly similar. Although the Litani to Israel transfer provides less quantity than the others, and then only to Israel, it does so at less expense. The other exception is the Wachtel Plan. Although it offers twice as much water to the region as any of the others, and five times as much as a Litani to Israel transfer, the Wachtel Plan is both technically and politically the most complex. Also, though no cost per cubic metre is available, at US$5,000-$7,000 million in construction costs, the Wachtel Plan is probably the most expensive proposal as well.
The PRINCE Political Accounting System reflects the political differences for each of the options. As we can see, the more political entities involved, the lower the likelihood of success. The countries involved in possible cooperation also make a difference. It is suggested that bilateral cooperation between Turkey and Israel, who enjoy warm diplomatic relations, is more likely than cooperation between Israel and Egypt, which is restrained by legal agreements with Sudan. This option in turn is more likely than any arrangement between Israel and Lebanon, which is politically influenced by Syria. Any arrangement involving Syria and Israel together is considered highly unlikely at this point.
On the basis of this preliminary evaluation, which is based on extremely tenuous information, we might prioritize the options as follows:
Large-scale regional desalination projects
Large-scale desalination projects have often been looked to for a "quick fix" of regional water scarcity in the Middle East. Any largescale desalination projects will have to pass the difficult triple test of technical (including environmental), economic, and political viabi lity. Past attempts at large-scale water projects, both unilateral and cooperative, may provide useful clues to guide successful implementation in the future. Two such projects, the Agro-Industrial Complex, a US-supported cooperative project for the Middle East studied in the 1960s, and the MedDead Sea Hydroelectric Canal, which the Israelis studied in the 1980s, may provide useful models. The best aspects of the two types of projects, neither of which were built, might be combined and expanded for a new hybrid project for water and power for the 1990s, if technical and political developments allow. These aspects would include the regional approach and emphasis on international cooperation of the Agro-Industrial Complex and the comparatively safe energy applications of the Med-Dead Canal. The project, in turn, could be incorporated in a badly needed regional water development plan for the Middle East. Such a project is offered as an example of cooperation-inducing design, in the next section.
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