Ministry to assess new desalination project bidders soon

Aqaba–Amman desalination scheme is country’s answer to water shortage, failure of Red-Dead

the envisioned Aqaba–Amman Water Desalination and Conveyance Project
Map depicting the network of the envisioned Aqaba–Amman Water Desalination and Conveyance Project. (Photos: Water Ministry)
AMMAN — The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is developing the Aqaba–Amman Water Desalination and Conveyance Project (AAWDC) to address domestic water shortage in the Kingdom by constructing a desalination facility to draw water from the Gulf of Aqaba, produce drinking water and deliver it to the governates. اضافة اعلان

“Next week we will start assessing the 13 companies that showed interest in the project and we will qualify the most suitable ones by the end of this month or the beginning of next month,” said Minister of Water and Irrigation, Mohammad Najjar in a TV interview on Tuesday.

“We will give them time to study the project and present financial and technical proposals; we hope that between 2025 and 2026, this project will be completed.” An environmental impact assessment is also underway, expected to be concluded in late July, he added.

The project aims to generate 250-300 mcm of desalinated water a year to be pumped to governates across the Kingdom. Currently, demand for water exceeds supply by 400-500 mcm a year, according to Ministry of Water report, and this is expected to worsen with population growth and resource depletion.

Experts agree that the nation is in need of a sustainable solution. “We exhausted all the water resources, and our supplies are not sustainable,” AAWDC project manager at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation Issa Al-Wer told Jordan News. “The only solution to bring water from a non-depletable source that is always there: the Red Sea.”

The project is expected to address domestic shortages, provide additional water for irrigation from increased resultant treated wastewater and stimulate economic development in the regions involved and along the conveyor corridor.

“This would be under our sovereignty, under our control – it is our water,” said Al-Wer, “At this scale, a project like this has never been done before in Jordan.”

Among the greatest challenges to implementing this project is the long-distance between the Red Sea and the areas with high water demand in addition to differences in elevation, explained Al-Wer. This all represents an added cost.

“The cost of the project is roughly two billion; but we will know more once we get the offers,” said Al-Wer. The financing model includes government contribution, grants from global institutions in addition to soft loans for developers.

A variety of donors and members of the international community are expressing interest in supporting the project, he explained. For example, USAID has offered grants for technical studies and to subsidize parts of the project, the European Investment Bank and the French Development Agency have proposed financial support as well.

The ministry is additionally working with local entities including the Ministry of Energy to address some project needs. “The desalination technology and conveyance require a lot of power; roughly 60-70 percent of the water cost will be energy, so any reduction will be reflected on the financial sustainability and affordability of the project,” explained Al-Wer.

Another project that was previously proposed as a potential sustainable water solution, is the Red to Dead Water conveyance project.  While the goal of addressing shortages is the same, the process and the entities involved, differ.

Per Najjar’s statements, the previous project did not satisfy the nation’s immediate water requirements. “We have urgent needs and there are no agreements made regarding the Red-Dead project,” he explained. “We are now moving forward with the National Carrier project; it is our water on our land.”
The World Bank has recently announced that the project has been removed from their list of approved projects, citing the lack of inter-governmental agreement on project standards, which was supposed to involve Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

This two-decade-old plan involved the extension of a water pipeline between the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in Jordan. According to Ecopeace, the idea was born in 2002 at the World Summit for Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, when the governments of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority advanced the idea of building a water conveyance linking the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

While the water provided will help meet the immediate population needs, Al-Wer predicts that looking ahead, we would need a new station or additional pipeline to meet the rising water demand.

“By 2040 we would need another facility as big as this, because of population growth and resource depletion,” explained Al-Wer. “But we imagine that this is the first step in desalination solutions; after this we would have standards, experience, understand the technology more and we can run these projects.”

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