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The Dead Sea is Shrinking Faster Than Ever

• October 29, 2012 • 9:23 AM

The Dead Sea has been drying up at a frightening pace for many years now – and the problem is only getting worse, reports Bloomberg News. The ultra-salty  lake that straddles Jordan and Israel dropped almost five feet over the last 12 months – the fastest decline since record-keeping began in the 1950s.

Israel’s Hydrological Service lays the blame for the shrinkage speedup on potash companies that pull water from the Sea. But the major culprit, as I reported here a while back, is Jordanian and Israeli farms and cities siphoning off water from the Jordan River, which has fed the Dead Sea for millenia.

The Dead Sea’s shrinkage is a major problem. Over the past three decades, the sea’s shore has retreated as much as a mile, which hurts business at the hotels and spas dotting what used to be the sea’s beaches. Moreover, as the water retreats, it destabilizes the ground around it, spawning massive sinkholes that have devoured entire villages. Underground freshwater springs that feed nearby oases rich in wildlife are also being dragged down.

In response, officials are looking into building a $10 billion, 110 mile canal to bring in water from the Red Sea. That effort, reports Bloomberg, continues to creep forward; new studies are due in the coming weeks. Here’s hoping someone comes up with a fix while there’s still a Dead Sea to save.

Here’s a quick intro to the issue:
[quicktime]http://www.psmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Dead_Sea_video.mov[/quicktime]

 

Vince Beiser
Vince Beiser is an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter @vincelb.

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