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Jordan’s water situation worrisome, solutions exist

(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN  — On Monday, Water Ministry spokesman Omar Salameh said in a televised interview that this summer will be as critical as in previous years in terms of water supply.اضافة اعلان

Water sector experts see many reasons for the persistent water scarcity in the country, and suggest solutions.

According to Salameh, Jordan has always suffered from low quantities of water and growing demand for this commodity, but since and the quantity of drinking water in dams is limited, the burden increases in the summer.

It is probable for some Jordanian regions to witness water shortages, but that the ministry is fully prepared to deal with the situation, and has effective plans in place, Salameh said, without elaborating on the details of these plans.

He attributed the water shortage to a variety of factors, including lack of precipitations, a decrease in the amount of underground water, rising temperatures, and ongoing climatic changes.

At the same time, he said, the return to normalcy and the resumption of activities in the field of industry and tourism, following the pandemic, resulted in an increase in demand for water. To that, he said, should be added the large number of people who returned to Jordan following the period of pandemic, adding that these numbers are still growing as a result of the global political situation.

UNDP Director of Projects Sami Tarabieh told Jordan News that “there is always an equivalent of 20 percent to 25 percent deficit in Jordan’s yearly water budget, thus the water situation for this summer will certainly be somewhat unsatisfactory, as usual”.

According to Tarabieh, this is due to natural causes, in the first place, such as Jordan’s scarcity of water supplies, as well as to drought and continued weather fluctuations, which put undue strain on the few available water resources.

At the same time, the growing number of refugees is an added hardship “since it defies the government’s plans by the rapid and unpredictable demographic increase”, he said.

“What the government is attempting to do in terms of plans and projects to control the national water security, such as the National Water Carrier Project and water harvesting projects, may be insufficient, and the reason for this is entirely due to Jordan’s limited resources, as water-related projects always require large infrastructure and large funding that the government cannot provide,” he said, adding that “relying on external funding often takes a long time”.

According to Tarabieh, the government should implement long-term solutions to regulate the water situation, such as cooperation between the water and agriculture sectors, the latter usually having a water bill of more than 68 percent.

He also stressed that the problem of water leaks must be addressed water since it just adds to the financial load.

Researcher and water expert Muna Hindiyeh said that Jordan’s persistent water deficit is a very old issue that requires sustainable solutions because it is closely tied to food security.

“Natural reasons play a significant role in this water scarcity, but the government’s policies and programs have the greatest impact on this sector,” said Hindiyeh, adding that “the government is not properly utilizing current resources, and their clever exploitation would take Jordan to a higher level of self-sufficiency”.

Hindiyeh believes there are many sustainable solutions to the problem, such as using solar energy to operate desalination and water purification plants, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and taking advantage of international cooperation to obtain adequate financing to complete the massive projects that the government started but did not complete.

It is important to rely on specialists in the field of water and water engineering at this stage, which are very few in Jordan, she said, adding that “the matter begins with the provision of university specializations in the field of water, which would have a significant impact on Jordan’s water future”.

Hindiyeh commended the government for reusing wastewater by updating specifications and standards for wastewater reuse, pointing out that Jordan only benefits from 68 percent of this water, while “such a project would provide 80 percent to 90 percent of this water for use in various sectors”.

“We have to start thinking about answers in unexpected ways, or we will never progress if we keep using the same ideas we did decades ago,” she said.

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