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D Recommendations for future joint development and management: the Mediterranean-Dead Sea canal and Al-Wuheda dam projects

By the end of the 1990s, Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank, or Palestine, will have exhausted development opportunities for virtually all of their renewable sources of fresh water if current patterns of consumption are not quickly and radically altered. In these circumstances, the Jordan River system, which includes the Al-Wuheda dam scheme on the Yarmouk River, unquestionably holds the greatest potential for either conflict or compromise.

The proposed co-generation system coupling solar-hydro with hydropowered reverse-osmosis (RO) desalination on the Mediterranean-Dead Sea (MDS) conduit scheme would produce both 1.2 x 109 kWh of electricity per year, or 500 MW of peak electricity, and 100 million m of fresh water per year (Murakami 1991; Murakami and Musiake 1991). The power generated would be shared between Israel and Jordan to supply their peak demands, while the fresh water product of 100 million m per year would be used exclusively for the water supply in the central Ghor (the Jordan valley, in and around the Dead Sea) by Israel, Palestine, and Jordan.

The integrated Jordan River development and management scheme proposed here would include as key project elements (1) the MDS canal with hydro-power plant and hydro-powered RO desalination and (2) the Al-Wuheda dam and flood-rentention/recharge dams, for which the gross project costs are preliminarily estimated to be US$4.5 x 109, as follows (Murakami 1991):


It is suggested that the techno-political alternatives such as the MDS conduit scheme and the Al-Wuheda dam project should be linked in an integrated Jordan River development master plan which would be beneficial for interstate regional economic development between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. The water cycle and benefits of coordinating water development, water potential energy, and water politics are well understood by all the parties concerned.

It is suggested that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which once played an important role in developing the comprehensive Jordan River development plan (Main Plan and Johnston Plan) in the early to mid-1950s, or other potential UN agencies should be strengthened and enabled to initiate negotiations between the riparians Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, and that a new executive agency should be organized with international funding for the specific purpose of developing the Jordan River basin and inter-state economic regions such as the Dead Sea and Aqaba.

It is suggested also that the Japanese government and/or other G7 countries should play an catalytic role in the above, with consolidation of ideas, strategies, policy making, and planning in association with the United Nations University and the World Bank, by providing a strategic fund of say US$2 billion to the United Nations to cover the initial project costs. The new executive agency with United Nations support would be responsible for managing all aspects of the project, including financing arrangement, investigation, planning, design, construction supervision, operation, and management and administration throughout the project life of say fifty years.

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