Unused dam could be invested in for tourism purposes

3.Karameh Dam
An undated photo of Al-Karameh Dam. (Photo: EJAtlas)
AMMAN –– The government has confirmed that a major dam in Jordan Valley has not been operational due to the high water salinity, and the way forward is to offer the facility for investment in the recreation and fish farming industries.اضافة اعلان

Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Al-Najjar said authorities have decided to abandon the project due to high rate of salinity of its water and the presence of a high percentage of treated waste water, and that that national standards do not allow treating water of such quality for drinking or agricultural purposes.

"Which is better, to leave it in this condition, abandoned 24 years after it was built, or invest in the area and create 130 or140 jobs for Jordanians," the minister said in a phone interview with Jordan News.

The minister’s remarks came after veteran lawmaker Khalil Atiyyeh filed a query with the Lower House's secretariat asking about the dam and rumors that it would be sold to the private sector. Atiyyeh had 13 questions about the issue; an official response to them is due within 14 days, under the House statute.

Atiyyeh said in the letter that the public deserves to know the facts about Karameh dam, which was built with a 55 million cubic meters capacity, as it is its right to be informed about decisions concerning public assets.

Secretary General of the Jordan Valley Authority Manar Mahasneh told Jordan News on Monday that Karameh dam has not been used since 2007, when it was abandoned in the early stage of its operation, after it became evident that the water feeding it, from Wadi Al-Mallaha, was not suitable for drinking or irrigation.

Mahasneh said that the facility has already been offered for investment, mainly for tourism purposes, but insisted that the land will remain owned by the government "contrary to what has been rumored".

The investment tender does include a desalination plant, but for the tourism investment and fish farming in ponds outside the dam lake, in addition to a seafood restaurant, wooden cottages, and water games facilities, he said, adding that “all have to meet public safety requirements".

She noted that Karameh dam is located amid beautiful sceneries and enjoys warmer climate in winter, which makes such a project attractive to tourists.
Water expert Amer Al-Shobaki said that the proposed project has pros and cons, adding that abandoning the dam indicates that water authorities are incapable of managing some dams, which explains why they have resorted to private investment to generate revenues.

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