Underground sandstone layers contain plenty of water — Haddadin

3.wadi mujib water dam
A recent infographic by the government showed that water per capita in Jordan is 90 cubic meters annually, way lower than the international water poverty per capita share. (Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN –– A former water minister and expert on the water situation in Jordan on Monday told lawmakers that Jordan can harvest water in the underground sandstone layers, which contain water that is capable of meeting the country's potable water needs for 500 years to come, and if used for other purposes, can last for 684 years.اضافة اعلان

Munther Haddadin, who assumed the water ministry portfolio during the 1990s, made his remarks on Al-Mamlaka TV amid a public denouncement of an energy-for-water declaration of intent that was signed in November between Jordan, UAE, and Israel, under which Jordan would supply Israel with energy and receive 200 million cubic meters of desalinated seawater.

The declaration was signed on the sidelines of Dubai Expo 2020, triggering a wave of public protests and demands by anti-normalization activists as well as experts for the government to seek alternative solutions to the water shortage problem.

During a meeting with the House Agriculture, Water and Badia Committee, Haddadin said that Jordan's renewable water resources are insufficient to meet the country's needs. 

A recent infographic by the government showed that water per capita in Jordan is 90 cubic meters annually, way lower than the international water poverty per capita share.

Haddadin said that the water per capita should reach 1,700 cubic meters annually to meet all the water needs for potable, household, and food production purposes.

Head of the committee, lawmaker Mohammad Al-Alaqmeh said that Haddadin was invited to present his views on the water situation in Jordan after the House referred the "water file" to the committee to prepare a report on the matter. 

The committee has been meeting with a number of water experts and stakeholders before drafting and submitting the report to Parliament.  Alaqmeh said he expected the report to be ready in three weeks. 

Haddadin told the committee that the water situation could not be assessed without accurate data on energy, adding that when he was in office in 1996, the water ministry dug wells in different locations to explore underground water deposits.

He insisted that mining sandstone water is cheaper than water desalination and easier to transport, noting, however, that he is not against the National Water Conveyance Project, which is designed to desalinate Red Sea water, which alongside the quantities expected from Israel, will meet the growing demand on water, especially as Jordan is hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees and foreign labor. 

"In all cases", Haddadin said, "a cheap and environment-friendly source of energy is needed for the desalination project, and when that is available, the project can be resumed, but for now, priority should be given to utilizing sandstone resources." 

Water expert Amer Al-Shobaki disagreed with Haddadin, describing the latter's ideas as "unrealistic," insisting that sandstorm water is not potable and needs desalination, let alone that it contains radioactive minerals. 

Shobaki suggested that the solution to the water problem lies in preventing water waste, which constitutes 50 percent of the available quantities, which he said can be achieved through maintenance of water distribution networks and prevention of water thefts.

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