By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The Red-Dead project’s economic feasibility study and the environmental and social impact assessment have been completed, marking a milestone in the water mega-project, a senior official said on Monday.

According to Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) Secretary General Saad Abu Hammour, the economic feasibility study and the environmental and social impact assessment of the Red-Dead project have been completed and will undergo review.

“Results of the economic and environmental studies cannot be announced to the public yet as they are draft reports and can only be evaluated after all sub-studies are completed,” Abu Hammour told The Jordan Times over phone yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea Modelling Studies are scheduled to be completed within six months, Abu Hammour said yesterday.

The Red Sea Modelling Study explores the impact of the Red-Dead project on the physical, chemical and biological make-up of the Red Sea, while the Dead Sea Modelling Study examines the impact of the scheme on the Dead Sea and water quality.

The results of the World Bank-led studies are to determine whether and how stakeholders will proceed with the project, which entails pumping one billion cubic metres of water annually from the Red Sea into the rapidly depleting Dead Sea.

In March, the Kingdom will host a meeting of the projects’ steering committee, which comprises representatives of the three beneficiary governments (Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel,) World Bank experts and representatives of companies carrying out the project studies.

The Red-Dead project is part of international efforts to save the Dead Sea, which has been shrinking at the rate of one metre per year, largely due to the diversion of water from the Jordan River for agricultural and industrial use.

The project aims to raise water levels in the shrinking lake from 408 metres to 315 metres below sea level.

Over the past two decades alone, it has plunged more than 30 metres, with experts warning that it could dry up within the next 50 years.