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Water shortage ‘more severe’ than last year — minister

Plans to increase pumping from Disi basin by 5 million cubic meters; this season’s deficit estimated at 10 million cubic meters

water tanker
A water tanker in Wadi Rum desert in December 2019. (File photo: Shutterstock)
AMMAN — Minister of Water and Irrigation Muhammad Al-Najjar said Sunday that work is underway on a project to finance citizens who want to build rainwater harvesting wells, according to local media outlets.اضافة اعلان

During a meeting of the Lower House Committee on Agriculture, Water, and the Badia to discuss the water situation this summer, the minister said the project was ongoing in 2010 and stopped, but it is currently being worked on, with this year’s financing for the project estimated at JD120 million.

He added that this year will be “more severe” than the previous, regarding the Kingdom’s water availability. While rainfall last winter amounted to about 80 percent of the annual average, “its distribution was bad”; the south of the Kingdom only saw 36 percent of its average rainfall, the minister said.

Last year Jordan only had 63 percent of its annual average rainfall. “It is known that every 10 years comes a good rainy season,” Najjar added.

He said that the amount of water that was collected in the country’s dams amounted to 90 million cubic meters at the end of the winter season, “but the capacity of these dams is three times higher”.

He said that the water stored in dams is 10 million cubic meters less than last year — a deficit that will have a very significant impact on the availability of drinking and irrigation water, Najjar warned.

“We depend on two main dams to supply drinking water, which are the Wahda and Mujib dams,” according to Najjar. “Mujib Dam was taken out of service last August due to lack of water, and it is not being used this year because it is dry.” As for the Wala Dam, the amount of water is also modest, the minister stated.

Regarding attacks on water pipelines, Najjar said that long-distance lines cannot be protected, calling for more cooperation between the ministry and citizens and to report attacks for faster maintenance. He added that four times as many wells were rehabilitated than in 2019 and 2020.

He pointed to “greed” among owners of water tankers who take advantage of citizens during critical times. “We are currently discussing increasing pumping from Disi basin from 107 million cubic meters to 112 million cubic meters (annually), and there is the possibility of raising it to 119 million cubic meters next year,” he said.
Mujib Dam was taken out of service last August due to lack of water, and it is not being used this year because it is dry.
He added that there are no specific ceilings on how much Jordan can pump from the Disi basin (which is shared with Saudi Arabia), but added that, “we will discuss soon adding more pumps there, and we may raise the water supplied from there next year by about 7 to 8 million cubic meters.”

Regarding the National Water Carrier, Najjar said that all documents related to project have been completed, and “that a condition has been set for financiers that 50 percent of the energy used in the project is to be of renewable sources; for the purpose of reducing costs”.

“One of the big victims is industry, because we are obligated to provide a specific amount of water to the potash industry, which is one of the most important financial sources for the state Treasury that depends on water,” he concluded.

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