Environmentalists: Jordan River Risks Drying-Up Entirely

Published: May 3rd 2010
in News » Israel

Jordan River

The Jordan River has been reduced to a sparse and polluted stream, and could die as soon as next year if a stop is not put to the human-induced decay.


According to Friends of the Earth, an environmental organization, the Jordan "has been reduced to a trickle south of the Sea of Galilee, devastated by overexploitation, pollution and lack of regional management."


Over the years, more than 98 per cent of the river's flow has been diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan. Now, Israeli environmentalists have reported the once mighty Biblical river, where Christians believe Jesus was baptized, consists primarily of sewage and agricultural run-off.


The Jordan River runs 217 kilometres from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, its streams shared by Israel, Jordan, Syria, and the West Bank, and "without concrete action,” say Israeli environmentalists, “the LJR (lower Jordan River) is expected to run dry at the end of 2011."


In 1847, a U.S. naval officer who led an expedition along the river described navigating cascading rapids and waterfalls, The Gazette reported. Today, the Jordan is a salty stream, just a few metres wide.


Communities all along the lower Jordan River, consisting of about 340,000 inhabitants, continue to dump raw sewage into the river.


The Friends of the Earth organization believes the solution involves releasing large amounts of fresh water into the river, which once had a flow of 1.3 billion cubic metres a year; it now releases a mere 20 to 30 million cubic metres into the Dead Sea.


According to Munqeth Mehyar, Friends of the Earth’s Jordanian director, "A new study we commissioned reveals that we have lost at least 50 per cent 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."

Related articles: (Jordan River, Israeli environmentalists, Friends of the Earth)
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