At the lowest point of our planet, approximately 423 meters below sea level, something happens. Dead sea, salt lake, washing the shores of Israel, Jordan and the West Bank of the Jordan river, dry at an alarming rate — about one meter per year, according to the environmental organization EcoPeace Middle East. The reason is human activity.
“It’s not one country harms the Dead sea, it is the whole region,” says photographer Moritz Kuestner who visited the Dead sea in February while working on the project “Dying Dead sea”. The pond needs water from other natural sources that surround it, such as the Jordan river basin. But in the 1960-ies of the channel some of the sources that nurtured the Dead sea, unfolded. For example, Israel in this time has built a pipeline to provide water throughout the state.
The companies producing minerals, is another important reason why the water level drops, experts say. Dead sea salts are renowned for healing properties and are often added to cosmetics and other consumer goods. This is to hot and dry middle Eastern climate, because of which the lake is hard to regenerate itself.
Last year Israel and Jordan signed an agreement in the amount of $ 900 million on efforts to stabilize the water level in the Dead sea. Under the agreement, it is planned to build a canal from the red sea to the Dead sea that both countries could not only provide water to all of Israel and Jordan, but also to pump water into the Dead sea about 300 million cubic meters per year. “This is the most important and significant agreement since the peace Treaty with Jordan (1994),” the Minister said Israel’s energy and water resources Silvan Shalom. Whether the positive effect of the channel on which construction will take about three years, is still unknown.
But now the photographer Moritz Costner shows us that the Dead sea is a popular destination among tourists for swimming in its salty waters, people come here from all over the world. The dead sea, which in Hebrew is called the Salt sea, is one of the saltiest water in the world. Its salinity is about 34%. Because of what is happening in the last few decades, it becomes even more salty.
In early November, about 30 swimmers, marathon runners from around the world swam nine miles (14.5 km) from Jordan to Israel, to draw public attention to the declining water level in the Dead sea. Athletes swam in masks that covered the eyes and mouth, but one of the swimmers described his feelings, saying that if the acid burned his eyeballs. “It’s a hostile environment for residence or stay of the person, says Kostner. — It’s very salty, and if you try the Dead sea tastes like, it’s not like salt water. It tastes like poison.”
PHOTO: Moritz Küstner