Jordan River 'to run dry next year'
By Orly Halpern
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May 9, 2010
Normally on bus tours the guide will make numerous pit stops for the sightseers. But as we drove from Jerusalem out of the Judea Mountains and into the open space of the Jordan Valley, our Jordan River tour guide asked the participants to use the bathroom at the gas station where we first stopped, because we would be avoiding all other toilet facilities until we reached the Sea of Galilee.
"All the sewage of the communities along the Jordan River goes right into it and we want to avoid adding ours," Gidon Bromberg said with a wry smile.
Bromberg is the Israeli co-director of Friends of Earth Middle East (FoEME), an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian environmental NGO that is making surprising headway into the most critical environmental crisis facing Israel, Palestine and Jordan: water.
FoEME organised the tour to teach journalists about what is killing the renowned Jordan River and to share the results of two groundbreaking studies it released that identify for the first time how to save the river - both in terms of how much water is needed and where the water would come from.
We travelled up the western side of the Jordan River along Road 90, which goes through both the Palestinian and Israeli parts of the Jordan Valley.
Close to the river we parked and walked down steps that led to a deck on the river's edge.
A second FoEME study - prepared jointly by an Israeli, a Jordanian and a Palestinian economist - measured the amounts of water that could be saved through various means and their cost-effectiveness.
The economic analysis listed a number of ways to increase supply and reduce demand in the most cost-effective way and FoEME has been working with Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians to encourage cooperation in order the save the river that is dear to them all.
We continued north, passing a crusader castle on our left, and we crossed Herod's stream, a contributor to the river, which today is contaminated by Israeli fishpond waters filled with feed, hormones, and fish droppings.
FoEME has proven that persistence, cooperation between all sides and public awareness through the media, can help to generate change.