October 22, 2012–The Dead Sea is shrinking at a record rate, prompting calls for Israel and Jordan to stop fertilizer makers from siphoning so much of the water whose restorative powers have attracted visitors since biblical times.
The salty inland lake bordering the nations dropped a record 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) over the last 12 months because of industry use and evaporation, the Hydrological Service of Israel said. That’s the steepest Dead Sea decline since data-keeping started in the 1950s. Half the drop was caused by Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) and Jordan’s Arab Potash Co. (APOT), said Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of the Friends of Earth Middle East.
“This is unacceptable and speaks to the urgency of the need to force industry to change their extraction process,” Bromberg said in an interview from Tel Aviv.
The makers of potash, a raw material for fertilizer, are competing for water with a centuries-old tourism industry on the Dead Sea, Israel’s most crowded leisure destination last year with 857,000 visitors. That’s more packed than Tel Aviv and Eilat’s beach resorts, the Tourism Ministry said.
It isn’t only pumping causing the degradation of the Dead Sea, a biblical refuge for King David. Agriculture diverts water for crops from the Jordan River that feeds into the Dead Sea, adding to a decline that’s created potentially life-threatening sinkholes by the shore…Read More>>