Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | October 21, 2012

“Take Me over the Jordan”: The First Step in a Regional River Plan

The Once, Mighty Jordan River – barely seen today.

It’s a river prized by the world’s three monotheistic religions for its cultural significance, and valued for its unique ecosystem. Yet the very existence of the Lower Jordan River is currently threatened by over-exploitation and excessive diversion of its water, pollution and inappropriate development.

Friends of the Earth Middle East aims to redress the damage posed by the diversion of the river’s tributaries, and prevent the Jordan River from drying up completely.The first step of this plan has just been realized, with the publication of “Take Me over the Jordan: Concept Document to Rehabilitate, Promote Prosperity and Help Bring Peace to the Lower Jordan River Valley”.

Black Irises at the Ziglab Dam

This concept document builds upon FoEME’s March 2005 publication, “Crossing the Jordan”, and paves the way for action – between residents, faith-based communities, municipal governments, regional water regulatory bodies, national governments, legislatures and international partners.

Among FoEME’s recommendations is a call for the return of 400 to 600 million cubic meters (MCM) of fresh water to the river to allow it to function once again as a healthy ecosystem. As part of this, FoEME has identified estimates for allocation for each country that currently diverts water from the river to meet the regional rehabilitation goal – 220MCM (54 per cent of 400MCM) from Israel, 100MCM (24 per cent) from Syria, and 90MCM (22 per cent) from Jordan. Palestine is excluded from this allocation as it currently does not receive water from the river, and because its water allowances are controlled by Israel.

In order to achieve the water savings necessary to allocate water back to the river, FoEME has also identified cost-effective water saving measures that could be undertaken by each country, including the use of double-flush toilets, rooftop rainwater harvesting, and the promotion of water-conserving gardens. FoEME has calculated that more than one billion cubic meters of water could be saved if all countries involved were to implement these water-saving measures.

Supply-side water management is also addressed in the document, with strategies to increase supply including, municipal rainwater reclamation in agriculture, municipal rainwater collection, reduction of water conveyance loss (by reducing leaks), reduction of evaporation from reservoirs, and accountability of supplied water.

“Take Me over the Jordan” is just the beginning of an exciting new phase of work towards preparing a regional master plan for the rehabilitation of the river. This regional master plan will propose specific recommendations for rehabilitation work, and include a framework for planning, policy and implementation of these recommendations.

In the meantime, however, it’s easy to do your bit to help return freshwater to the Jordan River by:

Saving and recycling water at home, school and work;

Writing to or phoning your local or national decision maker to ask them to commit to rehabilitating the Jordan River;

Visiting the Lower Jordan River to take a firsthand look at this unique natural area;

Donating to FoEME to help us fulfill our mission to rehabilitate the river; and,

Keeping up to date with FoEME’s work through our blog, Twitter, Facebook page and by signing up for our monthly environmental newsletters at the bottom of FoEME’s site.

You can access the English copy of  “Take Me over the Jordan: Concept Document to Rehabilitate, Promote Prosperity and Help Bring Peace to the Lower Jordan River Valley” online. Arabic and Hebrew versions will be available soon.

This blog was written by FoEME intern Lauren Salathiel, who is based in the Amman office.

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