Italian runs to sound alarm on Dead Sea's state of health

Pugolotti raises awareness about shrinking sea level

12 November, 17:10

    (ANSAmed) - AMMAN, NOVEMBER 12 - From Dead Sea to the Red Sea, Italian national, Giuliano Pugolotti ran from lowest point on earth through scorched desert of Wadi Araba to raise awareness about shrinking level of the Dead Sea.

    The 220 km running track saw Pugolotti pass through stunning scenery on way to south Jordan, known to be part of the Great Rift Valley that runs between Turkey and Madagascar.

    "Despite its small area, Jordan is like many countries in one, as it combines several climates and ecosystems, thus displaying diverse flora and fauna," Pugolotti told the Jordan Times.

    Among 23 running trips around the world that he has done, Pugolotti said that Wadi Araba is "one of the best trails on the globe" as it combines distinguished landscape, location, nature, culture and history. The trail attracts athletes running ultra-marathons, with a message of nature preservation, especially the disappearing Dead Sea, he was quoted as saying. "I ran in Pamir in Kazakhstan, 8,000 metres above sea level and, this time, I ran from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, to Aqaba," pointing out to the unique nature in Jordan due to its climate, history and social live.

    The Dead Sea is facing serious danger of losing more of its surface water as a result of shrinking resources feeding the sea. Recent figures of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation show that water inflow levels to the Dead Sea have taken a nose dive to 10 per cent of its original level prior to the 1960s. Experts predict future inflows would decline from 375 million cubic meters (mcm) to 135 mcm/yr. The decrease of water from the Jordan River is being blamed on overuse water resources.

    Jordanian officials privately blame Israelis for siphoning off the river resources by diverting its tributaries to quench farms in settlements that mushroomed since Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 war.

    According to Wadi Araba Peace Treaty, signed in 1994, Jordan gets 35 MCM of water from the Jordan River, 3 percent of the total flow, while Israel retains the right to use 97 per cent of the water. The Industrial use of the Dead sea is also to blame for the ongoing shrinking of the levels. Officials from Friends of Earth environment group say solar evaporation ponds are responsible for 25-30% of the total evaporation of Dead Sea waters.

    Officials and scientists are upbeat about a proposed project to inject life into the Dead Sea by linking it with a canal to either the Red Sea, in the south, or the Mediterranean sea, in the West. The multi-billion project could help Jordan put an end to its chronic water shortage and return the Dead Sea to its normal levels. The Dead Sea is 75 km long and from 6 to 16km wide. The Dead Sea is entirely devoid of plant and animal life, due to an extremely high content of salt and other minerals-350 grams of salt per kilogramme of water, as compared to about 40 grams in the world's oceans. During his journey, Pugolotti passed through villages scattered along the road, mingling with local residents including beduin tribes as he enjoyed the breath taking scenery.

    Being at such a geographic area is special, Pugolotti said, explaining that visitors can see many countries when doing this trail, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank, in addition to Jordan. (ANSAmed).

    (Picture courtesy of Giuliano Pugolotti).

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