Save Our Sea!
Last updated 8/7/2016 at 9:38am
More than seven thousand miles away, sun, water and salt converge to create a desert lake, threatened by scarce resources and decades of inaction. This desert lake is much saltier than the ocean, has spectacular mountain views and is a terminal body of water that is quickly drying.
Sound familiar? No, not the Salton Sea but the Dead Sea, half a world away in the Middle East.
As the Earth’s deepest hypersaline lake, the Dead Sea supports little life, is a popular tourist destination and sits on the border of Israel and Jordan less than 200 miles away from the Indian Ocean’s Red Sea. Despite being surrounded by a history of political instability and residing in one of the world’s poorest countries in respect of its water resources, the Dead Sea is being saved.
Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian authorities have agreed to solve Jordan’s water shortage and the lake’s perpetual environmental degradation by building a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. This sea to sea solution or ‘RedDead canal’ is an historic multinational collaboration integrating pipelines, pumping stations, reservoirs, hydropower plants and the world’s largest desalination plant. At around $10 billion, the project also aims to boost economic growth by producing new jobs, electricity and fresh water; benefits which will outweigh initial costs in the long run. Most importantly, the decision to save the region’s lake transcends regional, monetary and political differences to solve the root of a problem impacting human life, wildlife and the environment. As the Dead Sea awaits the success of its sea-to-sea solution, our Salton Sea still waits for its saving solution.
Could a similar sea-to-sea plan from the Sea of Cortez in Mexico be the answer here? The advantages favoring such a pipeline like geography, existing energy sources for desalination, steady multinational relations and public support are already in play. And the need to prevent public health and environmental tragedies is still urgently clear. What’s not clear is how we plan to deal with the long-term state of our largest lake, the Salton Sea. But the examples are all around us, from the Dead Sea in Jordan to the Aral Sea in Russia, Lake Chad in Africa to Owens Lake in Central California. They serve as constant reminders of what happens when we fail to act and of what happens when we dare to realize our potential.