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April 12 Meeting

Ezekiel’s Vision and the Dead Sea Power Project
By Randolph Gonce

My involvement with the Ezekiel Water Project started in 1993, with a letter to Shoul Eisenberg. Several things came together to cause me to write to Shoul. I had just read an article in TIME magazine titled “ISRAEL’S SECRET WEAPON” which told about the deal making and huge engineering projects with which Eisenberg was involved. Communication with Eisenberg was also prompted by my interest in the Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Project, near Chattanooga, TN, where I had taken my family for a tour of the facility. This project is very similar in elevations and flow rates to the hydroelectric project proposed in the Ezekiel Water Project plan. Also I had just been reading about how the Dead Sea was drying up because so much water from the Jordan River was being diverted for irrigation. I knew that the Dead Sea was more than 1300 feet below sea level, and could see that it was only about fifty miles from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea. The boring of the Chunnel under the English Canal was nearing completion, and I knew there was soft limestone in the mountains near Jerusalem. King Hezekiah had tunnels dug in the soft stone to bring the water from Kidron spring inside the mountain under Jerusalem so that their water supply was protected from their enemies during times of war. So I though that it would be a simple matter to bore a tunnel from the Med Sea to the Dead Sea and enable a hydroelectric project similar to the Raccoon Mountain project, except that there would be no pumping. Free energy flowing from the Med to the Dead and providing an abundant water supply for the region, what a glorious plan! I had no idea of the complicated political processes involved. Surely everyone would see the value of the concept, and the project would be done in short order. This project could help bring peace to the Middle East. So I suggested to Shoul that he start the project.

Shoul was impressed enough with my proposal to turn the letter over to Dr. Dan Zaslavsky, of Technion, for response, and this led to communication with Dan for several years. This communication was finally ended after Dr. Zaslavsky declared all projects to save the Dead Sea are worthless and interfering with his Energy Towers project.

My plan at that time was to share my vision of the project with big people and get them to take up the project. I had no intention of being involved in development of the project, and simply wanted to see the project be built. I believed that people, seeing the vision of Ezekiel fleshed out, would be more appreciative of God’s power.

So I dedicated myself to learning more about the physical dimensions of Ezekiel’s vision. I began a progressive quest for understanding Ezekiel’s vision. I believed that the prophet used a picture of a river flowing into the Dead Sea to illustrate how the message about Messiah, the gospel, that went from Jerusalem into all the world, would bring spiritual life wherever it was received.

But there were some things about the vision that spoke to the engineer in me. I could see language in the vision that connected with a project that would bring water from the Med Sea to the Dead Sea. Two things stood out in my mind, the measuring of the depth of the water as it proceeded east, and the flats being left for salt. One in one thousand is a great design for a gravity flow tunnel from the Med Sea to the Dead Sea, and the flats will be left for salt means that the project will protect the mining interests at the south end of the Dead Sea.

Hydrology, the study of the flow of water, is familiar to me by training and experience. I am a graduate of Auburn University, with a BS in Agricultural Engineering. My first employment was as a soil and water conservation engineer with the Soil Conservation Service of the US Department of Agriculture. I developed an appreciation for Manning’s formula, an empirical formula that predicts the flow of water in various channel and tunnel configurations. If you know the dimensions and roughness of the channel and the slope of the flow, you can easily estimate the velocity and flow volume of the stream. I also knew from experience as a farm drainage contractor that the slope of large streams would often be about one in one thousand. In fact, we used that slope as the minimum grade for effective drainage in the underground drainage tubing used to drain wet farmland.

The repetition of the one in one thousand in Ezekiel’s vision spoke to me of design grade for a gravity flow tunnel from the Med to the Dead. A quick examination of the length of the tunnel and basic requirements for a practical hydroelectric project that would utilize available energy by limiting energy loss of transport to less than 20% of available energy, convinced me that Ezekiel really did have something to say about an engineering project. One in one thousand is an excellent design for the project. Ezekiel handed us the design grade for the tunnel. Ezek 47:3-5 –“When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.” NASU (It helps in understanding this vision to know that a cubit is about one half meter, the distance from ankle to knee, knee to loin.)

But why would the flats be left for salt? Ezek 47:11--"But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt.” NASU

The potash mining operations by Arab Potash and the Dead Sea Works is critical to the economy of both Jordan and Israel. In fact, those mining interests do not care if the Dead Sea continues to dry up, because it simplifies their mining operations. Somehow the mining interests should be protected in any plan to supply water to the region and to restore the level of the Dead Sea. A practical solution is to limit the rise of the Dead Sea to an elevation that would not flood the mining operations, thus the suggested permanent level of the Dead Sea at 400 meters below sea level. The flats would be left for salt.

Ezekiel’s location as he went forth from the Temple to examine the river is of interest. It is specified in minute detail in the vision.

Ezek 47:1-2 –“Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.” NASU

Obviously there is a big difference between a tiny stream issuing from under the house threshold and turning into a huge river within fifteen hundred meters, and our proposed tunnel. The tunnel is about 800 meters underground at this point, and its location must be determined by geological and engineering principles that have economic impact. I did not know at that time where the tunnel should be located.

By 2000 I was somewhat obsessed with the Ezekiel Water Project. I bought two copies of Carta’s map of Israel, the Holy Land 2000 edition with elevations in color. I pinned the map to the wall of my office behind my computer so that I could glance up at it when needed, all two by five feet of it with a scale of 1 in 300,000. Sea level up to 100 meters is green, sea level to 100 meters below sea level is a light blue-purple, -100 to -200 is lavender, -200 to –300 is light purple, and –300 to –400 is darker purple. I can now sit at my desk and visualize the elevations of the Holy Land, and the area of the rift valley from thirty kilometers south of the Dead Sea all the way up to the Sea of Galilee stand out in various hues of purple. The purple area, much of it relatively well suited for agriculture if water were available, offers opportunity to use water so that there is a positive energy balance for water used more than 100 meters below sea level. Thus the Dead Sea area has the potential to become an energy machine as water is used to fill the Dead Sea and to irrigate cropland in the lower areas of the valley. I became convinced that energy sales would be the engine that would drive the project. Ezekiel does not say anything about generation of electric energy using water power, but physical empowerment is needed for physical projects. The profit from generation of electric energy will fuel the construction of the tunnel and hydroelectric plant, and the flow of water used to generate electricity will enable desalination anywhere on the Dead Sea.

Desalination of water is clearly indicated in the vision, as it talks about plants growing where the river flows.

Ezek 47:12--"By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing." NASU

Desalinated water is a critical need for the region, especially for Jordan and for any future Palestinian territory. In fact, it is Jordan’s need for water that is pushing them to promote the Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance project, the RSDSC, to supply needed water for Jordan. Israel is using desalination plants sited on the Med Sea to meet their water needs, but Jordan has the Dead Sea for its western boundary, and deserts to the east. Why not turn the Dead Sea into the Med Sea for Jordan, by floating the Med Sea on top of the Dead Sea?

This idea of floating the Med Sea on top of the Dead Sea was discussed in the 1980’s in the context of other plans for the Dead Sea. It is a practical concept, and the major objection is that it would change the character of the Dead Sea, and stop people from floating on the Dead Sea while reading their newspaper. But previous proposals simply did not have the capacity to build a layer of the Med Sea water on top of the Dead Sea without it being mixed by wave action and causing precipitation of elements in the water that would discolor the Dead Sea and interfere with the Potash mining operation in the south.

Ezekiel’s vision clearly pictures the Med on top of the Dead in its description of the fish of the Med Sea being caught from En Eglaim to En Gedi.

Ezek 47:8-10 --Then he said to me, "These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many.” NASU

En Eglaim is believed to be near the entrance of the Jordan River at the north end of the Dead Sea, and En Gedi is the famous resort center near the south of the north part of the Dead Sea. Obviously, if fish are to live there, it will have to be a deep layer of Med Sea water. Fortunately, the present circumstances of the Dead Sea offer the possibility of placing a thirty meter deep layer of Med Sea water on top of the Dead Sea. Clearly this would support sea life and justify the fishing vision of Ezekiel.

The Dead Sea Water Project, of all modern proposals, is the only plan that has the capacity to add a deep layer of Med Sea water on top of the Dead Sea without mixing by wave action. The huge ten meter diameter tunnel proposed in the DSWP, on Ezekiel’s grade of one in one thousand, can deliver about 390 cubic meters per second to the end of the tunnel. This amounts to enough water to fill the Dead Sea one meter in one month. By adding this water during the time of the year when the sea is calm, a layer of Med Sea water sufficiently deep to prevent wave mixing can easily be placed on top of the Dead Sea, and can be maintained by removing of the top layer for desalination feed water and by returning brine from desalination to the boundary layer between the Med Sea water and the Dead Sea water. Operation of the hydroelectric project for maximum return to investment would then raise the level of the Dead Sea by about four meters per year until the 400 meters below sea level is reached. At that time, continued operation of the project would be enabled by the development of desalination capacity to utilize the inflow from the tunnel.

But there was still no reason I knew for the tunnel to be located under Jerusalem. I began to look for a desirable sea inlet for the tunnel. It should be in an area that is secure and that will not cause environmental and infrastructure damage. It should be along the arc from Tel Aviv to Ashdod that would enable a tunnel of the shortest length connecting the Med with the Dead. Palmahim Park near the Israeli Air Force station seemed to have excellent potential. When I visited Israel in April of 2005 for the first meeting of invitees interested in the project, Ken Shoop and I took a taxi down to Palmahim. When we arrived at the park, I noticed that calcareous rock extended into the sea. There were many places where rocks raised their heads in the surf. In one place the rock shelf extended in such a way as to form a foundation for the southern sea wall that would protect the inlet channel for the project. It would be a simple matter to excavate an opening in the limestone down to fifteen meters below sea level, some distance inland from the sea, and to keep water pumped out of that excavation while the water gate and tunnel transition were constructed. Once the water gate is constructed and closed, and the tunnel construction completed, the inlet channel to the tunnel extending out into the Med Sea can be excavated, and the stone removed by this excavation used to construct the sea walls to protect the channel. Imagine the joy of the sport fishermen who frequent the park to have two kilometers of rock jetty fishing pier with a deep channel on one side. Who would complain?

So we had the beginning point of the tunnel pretty well nailed down. But what about the exit location? After analysis of the operation of the hydroelectric plant from the perspective of maximum efficiency and maximum return to investment, I realized that we would need a storage reservoir at the east end of the tunnel that would collect the continuous flow at higher elevations, and release higher volumes of water at higher head for peaking power generation (during peak electric load time, the time when greatest generation capacity is needed, usually from 9 am to 5 pm).

The storage reservoir would need to hold at least one day’s flow through the tunnel, and it would need to have a maximum reservoir elevation of twentyfive meters below sea level. I sent a request to the Geological Survey of Israel and asked their help in locating a suitable reservoir site. They promptly sent me a contour grid of the area from the north end of the Dead Sea down to Nahal Avnat, covering the elevations –20 to –70 (meters below sea level). The only reservoir site available in that area was obvious. It was on the south branch of Wadi Qumeran.

I had already been looking at this location on my contour map, but since my map only showed elevations in 100 meter increments, I could not select the reservoir site without more information. Ken Shoop and I hired a Palestinian taxi driver to go down to this area during our April 2005 trip. We went around a curve in the road and saw many tanks parked in order in the distance, and some buildings. I immediately told the driver to stop, I got out and took a soil sample, which proved to be heavy clay, and we turned around and went back. I did not think it wise to approach the IDF tank training base in a Palestinian taxi.

Later I looked at the area on Google Earth, a program where you can see a satellite view of most any place on earth. I put in Jerusalem as the address in the search bar on Google Earth, and waited for the image to load. Then I moved east until I saw the Israeli Defense Force tank training base, then about one kilometer south of east and I saw the proposed dam site for the reservoir. It was great to look at it by satellite, and to see the terrain by tilting the view.

Immediately after locating the reservoir site, I placed a straight edge across my map of the Holy Land, from Palmahim to the south branch of Wadi Qumeran. The hair on my arms stood up when I saw that the tunnel would likely pass under the old city of Jerusalem. Later exploration with Google Earth determined that the tunnel route intersects a point two kilometers due east of the Temple site. In Ezekiel’s vision, this is where the stream becomes too large to ford.

This project can expedite settlements where Palestinians and Israelis can live productive lives. As Ezekiel said about his vision,

Ezek 47:12 --"By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing." NASU

In my mind, the leaves for healing carries a message of peace for the region, the most important healing of all, the healing of lives wrecked by anger and hatred.