AMOS BRANDEIS - ARCHITECTURE, URBAN & REGIONAL PLANNING LTD.


NATIONAL MASTER PLAN FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE DEAD SEA

Architect Brandeis is the Chairman of the Statutory Steering Committee and head of Statutoric Planning Team for the protection of the Dead Sea (National Infrastructure Plan No. 35).

In its current state the Dead Sea is divided into Northern and Southern Basins separated by an inter-basin dry zone. The Northern Basin is naturally deep; its water level, currently at 421 meters below sea level, is receding at a rate of 1.2 meter per year. The Southern Basin, which was once part of the greater Dead Sea, is naturally shallow; its current water level is at 391 meter below sea level- about 30 meters higher than the water level at the Northern Basin.

Since 1952 the Southern Basin is being used by Dead Sea Works Ltd (DSW) as an Evaporation pan, from which a variety of chemicals are extracted. The Reservoir is divided into a series of evaporation-settling pools; with the main pool, called Pan No. 5, having an area of 80 km2 and an average depth of 2 meter. As a result of salt settlement, the pool surface water level is constantly rising together with the thickening floor at an average rate of 20 centimeter per year. The thickness of the evaporation pools’ floor is estimated at about 8-9 meter.

The Dead Sea is also a national and international tourist destination for healing, heritage and recreational activities. Alongside the western shore of Pan No. 5 fourteen (14) Hotels were built with a total of 4000 rooms, comprising 8.8% of the total number of hotel room in Israel.

The rising level of the surface water affects the adjacent beaches, hotels and infrastructure, with floods, runoff interruptions, and groundwater seepage. The conflict between the strategic industrial center on one hand and the unique tourist site on the other stipulates a resolution. Provisional engineering systems were used such as a constructed shoreline embankment and an array of pumps to lower groundwater level.

Additionally, in 2004 the government of Israel advanced a decision to examine 3 optional long-term solutions:
  • Relocate hotels sited in close proximity to the Pan's bank;
  • Dredge the pool salt bottom and remove the salt to regulate surface water level;
  • Subdivide the industrial pool into two zones: Hotel Lagoon, with a constant water level- with respect to the hotel shoreline elevation; and an Industrial Pool, with a dynamic water level.

    The hotel relocation alternative was examined in 2007 by the Ministry of Tourism, while salt dredging and lagoon construction solutions are currently examined as part of a statutory action, called the Dead Sea Shoreline & Auxiliary Infrastructure Protection Project, devised by a comprehensive engineering and environmental planners' team under the Dead Sea Preservation Government Company (established in 2008 to merge the planning and the implementation of the Dead Sea hotel shoreline protection).

    In 2007 the Government of Israel announced the Dead Sea Shoreline & Auxiliary Infrastructure Protection Project as a project of national importance. The project is advanced per National Infrastructure Plan No. 35 as part of the Committee for National Infrastructure framework under the Ministry of Interior.

    See Image: Project Area Location Map- at The Dead Sea Preservation Government Company site
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