Rivers of the World, largest and most polluted bodies of water



Map of the River Jordan





The polluted and trickling Jordan River might once again be “deep and wide” as well as clean by 2025, if the joint efforts of Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians bear fruit.

On the diplomatic stage, Palestinians and Israelis have not held direct peace talks since April 2014. But on Tuesday and Wednesday, activists and officials from both governments as well as from Jordan met at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea for the second time this year about water.

They unveiled the first, 35-year Regional NGO Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley.

If it is implemented, pollution would stop flowing into the Jordan River within a decade, according to the plan’s author, EcoPeace Middle East, which organized the two-day conference.

“Adopting these measures will help build confidence between the parties and improve the daily lives of Palestinians, Israelis, and Jordanians,” Palestinian Authority Deputy Agriculture Minister Abdullah Lahlouh said at the event.

His sentiment was echoed by Israel’s Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud).

“There is fertile ground here for cooperation,” said Kara, adding that the program could build “bridges of peace.” “This is one of the most important rivers for believers from all over the world,” Kara said.

In biblical times the Jewish people ended its 40-year sojourn in the desert and entered the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan River. Centuries later Jesus was baptized in its flowing waters.

In the modern era, pollution and mismanagement have so damaged the river that some places are almost narrow enough for a person to jump across it.

“The Jordan River is so heavily degraded it has lost 95 percent of its historical flow over these last 50 years. It has been a dumping ground of waste, raw sewage, saline waters, and fishpond waste,” said Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of EcoPeace Middle East.

“An estimated 50% of the river’s biodiversity has been lost and the river is in a terrible state,” Bromberg said. “There is nothing holy about it today,” he added.

The master plan calls for the introduction of 127 regional and national projects through 2050, at a cost of some $4.5 billion. It includes projects on the environment, pollution, water management, agriculture, and tourism.

The plan also includes a list of short-term projects over the next five years that would cost some $500 million and include cleaning up the Jordan River.

Part of the plan is a waste water treatment plant to stop the flow of sewage into the river from the Israeli and Jordanian sides. In 2013 Israel released some nine million cubic meters of fresh water into the river from Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) to help strengthen it, Bromberg said, adding that it plans to increase that amount in future years.

All the projects under immediate consideration would be built either within the Green Line, in Jordan, or in Palestinians areas of the Jordan Valley that are now under Israeli military and civil control. There are no projects planned for Israeli settlements or that would strengthen Israel’s hold on the sections of the Jordan Valley that are over the Green Line. The Jordan Valley has 22 settlements that are home to some 5,000 Israelis.

The plan assumes that the Jordan Valley would eventually be part of a Palestinian state, even though there is much opposition in Israel to relinquishing the valley, which many believe is vital to the nation’s security.

But there are many aspects of the project that can move forward without a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 







HUMAN INTERVENTION - A sequence of photographs showing that at the source of the River Jordan the water is pure and unspoiled, but that as the river is used by humans for ceremonial bathing, diversion for agriculture and the dumping of waste, that we ruin natural resources. There should be an international law against diverting rivers and building islands in the middle of nowhere.




Christian pilgrims should be banned from entering the river Jordan at the site where Jesus is believed to have been baptised because of dangerous levels of pollutants, Israel's ministry of health has said.

The site was closed to the public today to allow the river's water to be tested following preliminary results from recent samples which showed high levels of raw sewage and agricultural chemicals.

But the demand to close or limit access to the site is controversial because of an uncompleted $2m (£1.3m) refurbishment project aimed at attracting more pilgrims to what is the third most important Christian site in the Holy Land, after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Around 100,000 people visit the site at Qasar al-Yahud, near Jericho, each year to be baptised in what they regard as holy water or to take away samples for baptisms at home.

Access to the site is only permitted with consent from the civil administration, the Israeli body set up by military decree to govern most of the West Bank.

The baptism site straddles the border with Jordan, and the western side is within a closed Israeli military zone.

Signs posted at the gated entrance to the site warn of pollution as well as land mines.

Visitors are accompanied by an armed escort along a road bordered by barbed wire through a desert landscape to the river.

Red and white tape was today barring access to the water, although visitors on the Jordanian side, a few metres across the river, were free to immerse themselves.

"We invested a lot of money in this site – it is going to be open, clean and convenient for all pilgrims," said Rafi Ben-Hur, of the tourism ministry. "I don't know with what authority the site was closed. I was very upset at this initiative. We will do everything to keep the site open. We believe it's safe to be baptised in this water."

The pollution of the river is largely a result of raw sewage coming from Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian sources, plus agricultural run-off – largely pesticides and fertilisers – and hormone-enriched effluent from fish farms, according to Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME).

"It's a very unholy mix," said FoEME's Israel director, Gidon Bromberg. "In the short term, the site should close to baptisms – the water is a risk to public health."

In the longer term, Bromberg said, the river's water needs to be rehabilitated. Currently, 98% of the water is diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan, mainly for agricultural use, which means the pollutants are highly concentrated.

FoEME is concerned that Israel's fear of losing tourists and pilgrims to the Jordanian side of the site could lead to pressure to keep it open despite the risks. "If the ministry of health caves in, we will take them to court," said Bromberg.

A health ministry statement said: "This is a complicated issue which requires discussions at the highest levels. Until a final decision is made, there will be no change in the directives of the ministry."

At the near-deserted site today, Torhild Tollefsen, 36, from Stavanger in Norway, persuaded officials to allow entry to her and her fiancé to collect some of the green stagnant water to baptise their future children.

"It's much smaller than I imagined," she said. "We came to see the place where Jesus was baptised. It's a special place, but the colour of the river is a bit strange.

"It's sad. This is a sacred place for me and for Christians all over the world. It's important that the river is healthy."

The refurbishment of the site includes landscaping the area down to the river with stone and decking, wheelchair access and shaded areas to provide shelter from the blistering sun.

Among the items on sale in the newly-opened gift shop are T-shirts saying: "I was baptised in the Jordan river."




RED RIVER POLLUTION - DECEMBER 2014 - Many theories have already started to emerge on the social media that could explain the color of the water, including an algae invasion or even a divine intervention linked to the “plagues of Egypt”, but the stench emanating from the water and the ten of thousand of dead fish accumulated on the shores suggest that it is more likely a chemical spill or other similar event that is at the origin of the phenomenon.

The magnitude of the disaster is already catastrophic, as the scarcity of the water resources in the region makes the Jordan River an issue of utmost strategic importance for the Jewish state and its neighbours. The Jordanian government has already decided to block the supply of water coming from Israel until the cause of the problem is clearly identified.




SOCIAL MISSIONS LEBANON - Field Report #32 Fnaidek - Every time the reporters asked about water in Wadi al Jamus, everybody said that the water was so polluted that it was almost unusable and they all pointed up the mountain. Annamaria Laurini, the UNICEF Representative, explained that the problem originated in the small village of Fnaidek up the mountain. She offered to took the team there and the next morning drove together to Fnaidek. On the way to the village, they crossed the infamous creek that feeds water to all the villages downstream and were presented with the horrible scenario above.





The Jordan River is a 251-kilometre (156 mi)-long river in West Asia flowing to the Dead Sea. Israel and the West Bank border the river to the west, while the Golan Heights and Jordan lie to its east. Both Jordan and the West Bank take their names from the river.

The river has a major significance in Judaism and Christianity and, to a more moderate degree, Islam, as the site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land and where Jesus of Nazareth was baptised by John the Baptist.

The Jordan has, geographically speaking, an upper course (from its sources to the Sea of Galilee) and a lower one (beyond the Sea of Galilee and down to the Dead Sea). For reasons of traditional terminology, the upper course (or most of it) is commonly referred to as passing through the "Hula Valley", and not the "upper Jordan Valley"; the Sea of Galilee through which the river passes is a separate entity; and the term Jordan Valley is reserved for the lower course. In this sense, the (actually in its entirety "lower") Jordan Valley may be separated into upper, central and lower Jordan Valley.

Over its upper course, the river drops rapidly in a 75-kilometre (47 mi) run to the once large and swampy Lake Hula, which is slightly above sea level. Exiting the now much diminished lake, it goes through an even steeper drop over the 25 kilometres (16 mi) down to the Sea of Galilee, which it enters at its northern end. The Jordan deposits much of the silt it is carrying within the lake, which it leaves again near its southern tip. The last, ca. 120-kilometre (75 mi)-long section, follows what is commonly termed the "Jordan Valley", which has less gradient (the total drop is of about 210 metres) so that the river meanders before entering the Dead Sea, a terminal lake about 422 metres below sea level with no outlet. Two major tributaries enter from the east during this last section: the Yarmouk River and Zarqa River.

Its section north of the Sea of Galilee (Arabic: Bohayrat Tabaraya, meaning Lake of Tiberias) is within the boundaries of Israel, and forms the western boundary of the Golan Heights. South of the lake, it forms the border between the Kingdom of Jordan (to the east) and Israel and The Palestinian territories (to the west).






In 1964, Israel began operating a pumping station that diverts water from the Sea of Galilee to the National Water Carrier. Also in 1964, Jordan constructed a channel that diverted water from the Yarmouk River, another main tributary of the Jordan River to the East Ghor Canal. Syria has also built reservoirs that catch the Yarmouk's waters. Environmentalists blame Israel, Jordan and Syria for extensive damage to the Jordan River ecosystem.

A small section of the northernmost portion of the Lower Jordan, the first ca. 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) below the Sea of Galilee, has been kept pristine for baptism and local tourism. Most polluted is the 100-kilometre downstream stretch - a meandering stream from above the confluence with the Yarmouk to the Dead Sea. Environmentalists say the practice of letting sewage and brackish water flow into the river has almost destroyed its ecosystem. Rescuing the Jordan could take decades, according to environmentalists. In 2007, Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) named the Jordan River as one of the world's 100 most endangered ecological sites, due in part to lack of cooperation between Israel and neighboring Arab states. The same environmentalist organization had said in a report that the Jordan River could dry up by 2011 unless the decay is stopped. The flow rate of the Jordan River once was 1.3 billion cubic metres per year; as of 2010, just 20 to 30 million cubic metres per year flow into the Dead Sea. For comparison, the total amount of desalinated water produced by Israel by 2012 was estimated to be about 500 million cubic metres per year.





South of the small earthen Alumot dam, there is not much left of the world-renowned and once mighty Jordan River. Israel, Syria and Jordan have all diverted its upstream waters for domestic and agricultural uses, leaving precious little fresh water for the river and its once thriving ecosystem. Diversion of over 98 per cent of its fresh water, in addition to discharge of large quantities of untreated sewage, threatens to irreversibly damage the river and the whole Valley. With Israel, Syria and Jordan, each grabbing as much clean water as they can, it is ironically the sewage that is keeping the river alive today.





Let us not forget that in the fight against ocean pollution, it is the pollution from rivers that is discharged into the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Oceans that is potentially the most harmful is left unchecked. Hence, the most wanted list of river authorities who need to think hard on cleaning up their act as the starting point for cleaner oceans:


1. Citarum River, Indonesia - The Citarum River is known as the most polluted river in the world and is located in West Java, Indonesia.


2. Ganges River, India - The Ganges River is considered the most sacred river in India by the Hindus. It is the third largest river in the world and it is believed that its water can cleanse the sins of people.


3. Mantanza-Riachuelo River, Argentina - The river is located in the Buenos Aires Province of central-eastern Argentina and is more than 60 kms long. The river is also known as Slaughterhouse River.


4. Buriganga River, Bangladesh - Buriganga is also known as the Old Ganges in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries around the world and is right now suffering from every kind of pollution that exists.


5. Yamuna River, India - The river is crystal clear and blue near its source in the Himalayas but as the river flows down the water becomes extremely polluted with sewage, industrial garbage, agricultural run- off etc.


6. Jordan River, Israel - The Jordan River originates from the Anti-Lebanon and Mount Hermon mountain ranges covers a distance of 223 km. The river has severely deteriorated especially the lower reaches of Jordan are full of untreated sewage and contaminated water flowing from agricultural lands.


7. Yellow River, China - The Yellow River of China is drying up fast due to expansion of factories, cities, agricultural farms etc. and whatever water is left is contaminated badly. The water is so toxic that it is not fit for agriculture.


8. Marilao River, Philippines - The Marilao River flows through the Bulacan Province Philippines and empties in Manila Bay. The main sources for polluting this river are tanneries, textile factories, piggeries, gold refineries and municipal dumps.


9. Sarno River, Italy - The Sarno River is one of the most polluted rivers in Europe. It flows in southern Italy near Pompeii and Naples. In recent years many cases of liver cancer have been reported which shows the level of degradation of the river.


10. Mississippi River, USA - The Mississippi River in USA is also known as the ‘Big Muddy’ as the water of this river is usually brown because of pollution. Crude oil spills reported in the river which has made the water toxic and is poisonous to the marine life. The river is a sewer for farmers and industrialists making it one of the most polluted rivers in the world.


11. Cuyahoga River, USA - The Cuyahoga River flows through Cleveland, Ohio and is known for having caught fire many times. The river is completely choked with oil, sludge, sewage and debris.


12. Pasig River, Philippines - The Pasig river is a 27 km long river in Philippines which passes from west of Laguna de Bay and moves downstream to east of Manila Bay. This river is termed biologically dead.


River Ganges Aarti ceremony, ritual bathing


RIVER CEREMONY - At the aarti ceremony, the clouds of smoke transform into small balls of fire and singers praise Shiva, the Destroyer. The water really is pleasant, warm and soft with a light slippery feel from the pollution. A boatman says he thinks the water is clean though brown like chai tea from the mud. After the monsoon the silt settles down. Many think that the mud neutralizes the river’s harmful impurities. These include human ashes, expired livestock, and the anchored bodies of lost children.





The most significant advantage to using SeaVax as a platform to develop a river cleaning solution, is that the vessel is powered by over 80kW of energy harvested from nature. This is important, because if the craft can be converted to clean effluent and metals from river water (not on the agenda at the moment, but we are willing to undertake studies if properly underpinned) whatever assistance that may provide is sustainable in energy terms, in a circular economy.


On average over a year, the energy harvested should provide enough energy to pump 89.9 million liters or waste water per vessel, or surface skim solids from a river.


This would not make a dent on the problems of the River Ganges as an extreme example, but many other rivers could benefit massively from at least a feasibility study to be able to come to terms with the logistical problems that we have identified.


1. The first thing to consider is whether it is advantageous to deploy several ocean dustcarts to deal with surface litter that would otherwise find its way into the open ocean and feed the 5 main Gyres. This is not only doable but a must in the case of nearly every substantial river in the world.


2. The second is to decide whether to deploy SeaVax oil spill boats to rivers that are known to be oil toxic.


3. The third is to undertake a feasibility study as to the possibility of modifying SeaVax units to deal with industrial waste and sewage at selected points of discharge. The issue here is likely to be volume where sedimentation tanks would need to be voluminous and SeaVax is a mobile solution. If deployed at known discharge points, that may negate the volume issue to some extent.




PROOF OF CONCEPT MILL & SINGLE STAGE FILTRATION - In this photograph our IT expert, Jamie Hughes, talks to delegates at Innovate 2015 about the potential for SeaVax. You can see the experimental mill mouth/head and hydro-cyclonic filtration chambers of the SeaVax test boat under construction. 




MOUTH - The full size version of this collector is 14 metres (44 feet) wide and includes two more stages of filtration that we cannot show here due to patent laws prohibiting publication before grant. This unit showed us what was possible and what to develop next. Nobody else anywhere in the world is developing such a system. We welcome development partners, not just on the technical boat build, but also on the logistical and political side.














IB Times India million litres untreated sewage polluting holy river ganga says report

Inspired Economist 2015/01/14 India uses zero liquid discharge technology for Ganges river

Haaretz Israel Ganga pollution news science

Central Pollution Control Board of India

listaka top 12 most polluted rivers in the world

Hubpages politics what are the 10 Most Polluted Rivers in the World

Listdose top 10 polluted rivers world

Austro Indonesian Arts Program blog most polluted river in the world Citarum

The Guardian environment 2014 January 2 plastic waste river Thames marine life report

Wikipedia Jordan_River

National Geographic news 2014 February Jordan river Syrian refugees water environment

The Guardian world news 2010 July 26 Israel closes Jordan Christ baptism

Jerusalem Post Arab Israeli conflict river pollution unites Israelis Jordanians Palestinians






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