Jordan and Israel have agreed to begin work on the first phase of a potential $900mn desalination plant and water pipeline network that will provide drinking water to Jordan, Israel and Palestine and begin refilling the shrinking Dead Sea. Jordan’s Minister of Water Hazim al-Nasir says the ministry will begin preparing studies and tender documents for the first phase of a Red Sea desalination project. Commercial operation is envisaged in 2018.

This year’s first phase tender will include a 220,000 cmd (80mn m3/year) desalination plant and intake facilities on the Red Sea near Aqaba in Jordan, 21km of freshwater delivery pipelines and 200km of brine pipelines to carry by-product from the desalination plant to the Dead Sea for discharge. It is hoped that the brine supply will help slow the drying of the Dead Sea, where the water level has been receding at a rate of around 1 meter per year. (CONTINUED - 297 WORDS)