Cover Image
close this bookCentral Eurasian Water Crisis: Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas (UNU, 1998, 203 pages)
close this folderPart IV: The Dead Sea
close this folder11. Alternative strategies in the inter-state regional development of the Jordan Rift Valley
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentCanal schemes for co-generation
View the documentThe Peace Drainage Canal scheme and eco-political decision-making
View the documentThe Aqaba hybrid scheme
View the documentTechno-political assessment of the Peace Drainage Canal and the Med/Red-Dead Sea canal
View the documentConclusion
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentReferences

The Peace Drainage Canal scheme and eco-political decision-making

The lower Jordan system (including the Dead Sea), which is shared by three riparians - Israel, Palestine (West Bank), and Jordan (East Bank) - will be an area of focus to demonstrate the willingness for peace through economic development. The "Peace Drainage Canal" (PDC) scheme, which would salvage brackish water, including saline spring water and irrigation return in the Jordan Valley, is proposed not only to protect the water quality of the lower Jordan mainstream but also to produce new fresh potable water (Murakami and Musiake, 1994). The PDC scheme would have an 85 km drainage canal along the lower Jordan River in either the West Bank or the East Bank, and a brackish water reverse osmosis desalination plant with an installed capacity of 200,000 m3 day at the terminal end of the canal system (fig. 11.4). The reverse osmosis desalination plant would convert useless or harmful saline waters into safe potable water at reasonable cost, taking into account incentives generated by ecopolitical decision-making to share the resources and benefits among the three riparians.

Conceptual design

The PDC scheme is being proposed to take into account the following six planning elements with eco-political decision-making initiatives:

1. Water environment. Freshwater quality and the ecosystem of the lower Jordan system would be conserved by diverting the harmful saline water that at present is being wasted in the mainstream, adversely affecting downstream users in Palestine (West Bank) and Jordan (East Bank).

2. Feedwater source. Brackish waters including saline spring water, base flow, and brackish groundwater in the Jordan Valley would be collected from the three riparian states. Israel would salvage saline spring water in Lake Tiberias and in and around Beit She'an. Palestine and Jordan would collect saline spring water, irrigation returnflow, deep percolation, saline groundwater in the shallow sandy aquifer, and brackish groundwater in the Jordan Rift Valley in the deep sandstone aquifer.

3. Joint water management. Diversion intake, infiltration pond, and a dual-purpose well system would be incorporated in a plan to salvage 50-100 MCM of residual winter flows in the lower Jordan system for joint use. The dual-purpose wells would mainly be sunk in the sandy shallow aquifer system. Tubewells that could pump 25-50 MCM per year of brackish groundwater from the deep sandstone aquifer system would be added to supply feed water during the dry season (fig. 11.5).

4. Drainage canal system and reverse osmosis plant. An 85 km drainage canal would collect saline water from Israel, the West Bank, and the East Bank. The canal route would run alongside the lower Jordan mainstream in either the West Bank or the East Bank. The reverse osmosis desalination plant, including a pre-treatment and post-treatment unit, would be installed at the end of the canal system.

5. Water pipeline system. A main waterpipe along the coast of the Dead Sea, to link the major towns of Suwayma, Qumran, Ein Gedi, Ein Bokek, and Al-Mazra'a, would be constructed to share the fresh potable water from the reverse osmosis plant among the three riparian states.

6. Wastewater treatment system and re-use. Wastewater treatment facilities in the major towns would be incorporated not only to re-use treated waste water for tree crops or garden irrigation but also to protect the clean water environment of the Dead Sea.


Fig. 11.4 The Jordan River system and the Peace Drainage Canal


Fig. 11.5 System flow diagram of the Peace Drainage Canal scheme (MCM) (Notes: PDC = Peace Drainage Canal, EGMC = East Ghor Main Canal, INWC = Israel National Water Carrier; a. brackish groundwater in shallow aquifer - summer period; b. brackish groundwater in deep aquifer - drought period; c. allocation of RO permeate in "Treaty of Peace," October 1994. Source: plans in "Treaty of Peace," October 1994, including Adashlya dam, Deganya Gate dam, and RO desalination plant in Israel)

Reverse osmosis desalination

The heart of the Peace Drainage Canal project is the reverse osmosis desalination plant to salvage brackish water. The treatment process includes three phases: pre-treatment, processing, and post-treatment.

Pre-treatment

Before being desalted, the water will pass through three pre-treatment steps to remove all solids that would quickly clog the expensive desalting membranes if they were not removed. Pre-treating the water will ensure a membrane life of three to five years. As the water flows into the plant, chlorine will be added to prevent the growth of algae and other organisms. The water will then go through a grit sedimentation basin to remove heavy grit, sediment, and suspended sands in the water. The water will also be softened by removing some of the calcium. Lime and ferric sulphate are both used in solid contact reactors. In the last step in the pre-treatment process, dual-media filters will be used to remove any fine particles or organisms remaining in the water.

Processing

Reverse osmosis is the separation of one component of a solution from another (in this case, salt from water) by means of pressure exerted on a semi-impermeable plastic membrane. A total of about 6,750 membrane elements inserted into fibreglass pressure vessels will desalt the water. Although the pressure tubes will all be 6 m (20 ft) in length, some membranes will have a diameter of 30 cm (12 in.), while the diameter of others will be 20 cm (8 in.). The element will be made up of a number of sheets rolled into a spiral-wound membrane. The separation of salt is a chemical process as well as a physical diffusion process. The water will be forced through the walls of cellulose acetate or synthesized membranes by applying pressure at about 15-25 kg/cm2, allowing only the freshly desalted water to pass through. This process will filtrate 75 per cent of the feed water and remove about 97 per cent of the salts from it. The fresh water will be forced by the downward pressure toward the centre tube.

Post-treatment and energy recovery

The water, with a salinity level of 300-500 mg per litre of TDS, will then be treated to make it safe for drinking in accordance with WHO standards. The water pressure in the brine reject (25 per cent of the feed water with 10,000 mg/litre salinity) will be used to generate electricity with a 1 MW mini hydropower plant at the end of the reverse osmosis module circuit. After retrieving energy of 6.4 million kWh per year, the brine will be directly released to the Dead Sea, where it will mix with this extremely saline water body (300,000 ma/litre of TDS).

Project costs and the unit water cost

The unit cost of the brackish-water reverse osmosis desalination, including the construction of an 85 km drainage canal, is roughly estimated to be US$0.48/m3. This includes the following four cost elements, assuming a construction period of three years for the reverse osmosis plant and an interest rate of 8 per cent:

- capital cost: US$211,518,000
- design and construction management: US$52,911,000
- financial expenditure: US$68,672,000
- annual operation and maintenance costs: US$20,551,000

The operation and maintenance costs of reverse osmosis desalination would likely be reduced by using less expensive off-peak electricity and by developing low-pressure, high-efficiency membrane modules.

The 75 MCM/yr of water produced from the reverse osmosis plant could be shared equitably among Israel, Palestine, and Jordan (see table 11.1). This water would be mainly used for municipal and industrial water supplies, with the aim of supplying fresh potable water exclusively to the major towns and cities along the shore of the Dead Sea. The Peace Drainage Canal scheme with a reverse osmosis desalination plant and water pipeline system should have the highest priority in a basin-wide master plan for an environmentally sound sustainable water development project to foster peaceful cooperation and regional economic development.

Table 11.1 Inter-state water allocation plans for the Jordan River system (MCM per year)

Proposed plan

Lebanon

Syria

Jordan

Palestine

Israel

Egypt

Total

Remarks

Main Plan (1953)


45

774


394


1,213


Arab Plan (1954)

35

132

698


182


1,047


Cotton Plan (1954)

451

30

575


1,290


2,346

including Litani diversion to Jordan

Johnston Plan (1955)

Hasbani River

35






35


Banias River

20






20


Jordan mainstream


22

100


375


497

Israel uses mainstream after Arab states use it

Yarmouk River


90

377


25


492


East Bank wadis



243




243


Total

35

132

720


400


1,287


Treaty of Peace (October 1994)

Yarmouk River (Adashiya)



25


45


70

Israel: 13 in summer, 33 in winter; Jordan: remainder

Jordan River (Deganya gate)



20


excess


50

Jordan: 20 in summer

RO desalination of saline springs in Israel



10


10


20


Integrated Joint Plan: Jordan-Palestine-Israel-(Egypt): M. Murakamia

Aqaba hybrid pumped-storageb

Water



34


33

33

100


Hydroelectricity (million kWh/yr)



500


500

500


1.5 billion kWh of electricity is shared by the three

MDS canal for co-generationc

Water



33

34

33


100


Hydroelectricity (million kWh/yr)



400

400

400



1.2 billion kWh is shared by the riparians with Gaza

Peace Drainage Canal with RO desalination



25

25

25


75

Brackish water desalination by RO

a. Simply assumes an equal allocation of water and electricity. b. Aqaba pumped-storage facilities with hydro-powered desalination plant are situated in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. c. The MDS canal has an retake in Gaza, a conduit in Gaza and Israel, a hydropower station with RO plant in Israel, and a hydro-solar reservoir (Dead Sea) in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel.