Hinterland Green

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Environmental Group Warns Jordan River Not Safe for Baptism Due to Severe Pollution

The millions of people who flock to the Jordan River to be baptized yearly can't be happy to learn that a group of environmentalists now consider the river to be unsafe for baptisms. The Jordan River, where it has been said Jesus Christ was baptized about two thousand years ago is now severely polluted with untreated sewage, agricultural run-off, saline water and fish pond effluent, according to Gidon Bromberg of Friends of the Earth Middle East.

From Christian Post:

The reason, explains Bromberg, is that "ninety-eight percent of the Jordan's fresh waters [is] being diverted by Israel, Syria, and Jordan."

Friends of the Earth has called on regional authorities to halt baptism in the lower Jordan River until water quality standards for tourism activities are met. The Israeli site, known as Qasar al-Yahud, draws more than two million Christians each year. Thousands of them visit the holy site to be baptized.

Friends of the Earth argues that high levels of coliform bacteria from sewage in the river have made it unsafe for bathing. But water tests released last week suggest otherwise, according to Eli Dror of Israel's Nature and Parks Authority.

"There's absolutely no problem with the quality of the water,” Dror told Reuters. “People can come and baptize here as much as they want; I guarantee it."

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, meanwhile, said he was pleased that tourists would be able to continue visiting and using the site safely.
This can't be good news for the tourists who visit the river to be baptized, but from an environmental perspective it is a sad turn of events.
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