25 July 2012
In this 2005 photo, a couple admires the late afternoon view of the the King Talal dam on the Zarqa River, the second largest tributary of the Jordan River. The river is heavily polluted and restoration is the Jordanian governments top priority. (photo: Greg Tarczynski)
Tradition and scripture both hold that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. To this day, countless Christians from around the world flock to the river and consider its waters sacred. The Jordan, though, is nothing like it once was. It is polluted and stagnant. The Israeli government hopes to change that:
“It’s five percent of what once flowed,” said Ben Ari, who is one of the rehabilitation project leaders. "You can easily walk across without getting your head wet."
Almost all the water that feeds the river is diverted by Syria, Jordan and Israel before it reaches the south, he explained.
But for the first time, Israel — which is two-thirds arid and has battled drought since its establishment 64 years ago — has a water surplus.
This follows decades of massive investment in the country’s water infrastructure. It re-uses 75 percent of its wastewater, mostly for agriculture, and by next year, 85 percent of drinking water will come from desalination plants.
The Israeli government has chosen to use this bounty to rehabilitate the countrys rivers. The Jordan tops the list.
An average of 150 million cubic meters of water will be returned each year, said Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau when he announced the plan a few weeks ago.
“That way in ten years, we will erase our debt (to nature),” he said.
For more, read the Reuters article, Israel plans to revive ailing Jordan river. To learn more about the Jordan River, read On Jordan’s Banks in the January 2011 issue of ONE.
Tags: Israel Jordan Revival/restoration Baptism