Register for updates

 
 

Environment & Ecology
RSS Feed
Where the Jordan Stops Flowing
Monday, April 03, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Regional cooperation key to river restoration strategy that could be emulated around the world, says TAU researcher

A new study conducted at Tel Aviv University and published in the journal Water Research argues that Israel's Jordan River may be a useful case study for the challenges facing stream restoration initiatives around the world. The Jordan River has been ravaged by unbridled population growth and defunct sewage treatment plants.

"No river enjoys better PR and has worse environmental conditions than the Jordan River," said Prof. Alon Tal, Chair of TAU's Department of Public Policy, who led the research. "The river has a biblical pedigree and the potential to bring about environmental cooperation."

The Jordan River now has only 3% of its original flow. It has been decimated by a drop in water supply as a result of population growth, climate change, and contamination from a range of pollution sources. Human wastewater and even fish ponds contribute to the extremely poor water quality.

"While the rehabilitation of the Jordan River is of mutual concern to Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians, the benefits of this rehabilitation have been extremely difficult to convey to decisionmakers, who are aware of how much they must spend to create them," Prof. Tal said. "When the water evaporates, though, wells run dry and agricultural systems and communities quickly collapse."

According to Prof. Tal's research, a two-pronged strategy that would both remove pollution sources and increase water flow to revive associated ecosystems requires regional cooperation.

"A restoration strategy requires ensuring a minimum flow and removing all pollution sources," said Prof. Tal. "We would also need to develop a program for ecologically sensitive tourism that will provide critical justification for ongoing commitment to environmental protection by all parties, regardless of their relative levels of prosperity.

"Regional thinking is critical to overcoming the population pressures of scarcity. Only a focused strategy that engages all the countries in the watershed can lead to a sustainable future for this iconic water resource. If we can't find he political will and economic resources required to revive a small, iconic river like the Jordan, it will be that much more difficult to find politicians and donors who will provide the funds to bring less famous streams back to life."

A cautionary tale

According to Prof. Tal, the case of the Jordan River has direct bearing on water-scarce regions around the world. China alone has some 24,000 rivers that are drying up.

Desalination, the process of removing salts and minerals from saline water to produce water suitable for human consumption or irrigation, has been hailed as a game-changer in countries long suffering from freshwater scarcity and has produced unique opportunities for cooperation in the region. But while desalination facilities have been instrumental in improving water supplies for populations around the world, they have not solved the crisis facing the planet's rivers and streams, including the Jordan River.

"People are mistakenly euphoric about desalination," said Prof. Tal. "Israel recycles 86% of its wastewater and is considered revolutionary in terms of its water management, but even Israel can't get a handle on the Jordan River. Our study is a response to those who think that if you can desalinate water, you don't have a water crisis. Let them come to the Jordan River and see for themselves."




Latest News

New Yeast Model of Metabolic Disorders May Lead to Life-saving Therapies

Unicellular organism mimics pathology and symptoms of congenital diseases, TAU researchers say.

TAU-Led International Team Discovers New Way Supermassive Black Holes Are "Fed"

These "giant monsters" were observed suddenly devouring gas in their surroundings.

New Biomarker Links Cancer Progression to Genome Instability

High level of specific protein in tumors indicates prognosis as well as optimal treatments, TAU researchers say.

Microplastics and Plastic Additives Discovered in Ascidians All Along Israel's Coastline

TAU report is first to assess presence of plastic additives in Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea marine life.

Heart Cell Defect Identified as Possible Cause of Heart Failure in Pregnancy

TAU research has diagnostic and therapeutic implications.

Sustainable "Plastics" Are on the Horizon

New sustainable biopolymer technology developed by TAU researchers may one day free the world of its worst pollutant.

Drivers Who Can "Bid" for Parking Spaces May Improve Parking Options Around the World

Parking algorithm can relieve pressure on lucrative parking areas, TAU researchers say.

Breast Cancer Recruits Bone Marrow Cells to Increase Cancer Cell Proliferation

Cancer-associated fibroblasts are derived from bone marrow cells called mesenchymal stromal cells, TAU researchers say.

Epigenetic Map May Pave Way for New Therapeutic Solutions to Hearing Loss

Understanding the expression of and controlling the genes involved in hearing are milestone discoveries, TAU researchers say.

Gas Clouds Whirling Around Black Hole Form Heart of Extremely Distant Luminous Astronomical Object

Discovery is the first detailed observation of the environs of a massive black hole outside the Milky Way.

contentSecondary
c

© 2019 American Friends of Tel Aviv University
39 Broadway, Suite 1510 | New York, NY 10006 | 212.742.9070 | info@aftau.org
Privacy policy | Tel Aviv University