Jordan’s Water Situation
Elias Salameh & Hazim El-Naser
Jordan has in recent years implemented a series of courageous policy issues to conserve, improve
and rehabilitate its water resources situation. The first major steps have been undertaken to solve
the problem of aquifer over-exploitation.
Metering and pricing the extracted groundwater for all purposes including irrigation together with
the prohibition of drilling will certainly lead to savings and conservation of the groundwater
resources and to shift to low water-consuming crops and to increasing efficiencies. In the case of
industrial water it has already lead to the introduction of water saving devices, in-plant water
recycling and reuse of treated wastewater. Improved conveyance system to reach a higher
efficiency and introduction of water saving application systems in irrigated agriculture have
become obligatory to farmers and well owners, because the extracted groundwater is priced and
farmers have to pay for it. Charging a price for the extracted fresh groundwater is expected to
encourage farmers to use any available treated wastewater or brackish water for those crops
Despite the considerable accomplishments, Jordan’s water sector remains in critical condition,
where the water need exceed the water supply. This situation will sharpen and the gap between
demand and supply will widen due to population growth. In addition, pollution of water resources
and salinisation due to over-pumping are destroying major water resources and lowering the
available, usable amount of water. Therefore, further management actions are still necessary to
reach an environmental and hydrogeological safe situation. Therefore Jordan has national laws that
authorize activities to conserve water. These laws are based upon the policy to put water resources
Recent developments in the water sector in Jordan may now serve as an example for other
countries with similar water situations.
The history of humans in Jordan throughout the last three to four millennia has been determined
and shaped largely by one major infrastructural element: water. This essential resource has great
influence over human life when it is scarce. In Jordan the lifestyles of people, their socio-economic
status and their conflicts have all been determined by this basic factor.
Agriculture developed when the amount of rain was sufficient to support plant life. Irrigated
agriculture was practiced along water courses such as the Jordan, Yarmouk and Zerka Rivers and a
number of springs pouring into the Jordan Valley as well as around the few oases in the eastern
In the past, availability of water and the technologies used for its exploitation not only determined
lifestyles and socio-economics but also limited the population to the number who could be
supported by the amount of food produced. In the last few decades the population growth rate has
been very high, not only due to natural growth but also as a result of the waves of refugees coming
The whole of Jordan's development has been concentrated in agriculture, mainly irrigated
agriculture, which entails developing water resources to be used for irrigation. Irrigated agriculture
created job opportunities through less expensive investments for both Jordanians and refugees.
This averted the potential catastrophes of poverty and hunger, and fostered domestic peace in
Jordan. But, with the sharp increase in population and agricultural development, as well as the
establishment of many small, medium-sized and even heavy industries (potash, phosphate and
fertilizers), the available water resources were insufficient to meet development aspirations,
especially because the spectrum of water uses has widened and the intensity of water needs has
increased. Population growth, higher standards of living, industrialization, irrigation and other
activities accelerated the exhaustion of available resources.
Despite the implementation of intensive water projects and conservation measures, water shortage
is the major obstacle to Jordan's development. This puts specialists and politicians under severe
stress concerning the future of the country's economic growth, especially by considering the
numerous water problems of the country: increasing demand, limited resources, depleting
resources, over-exploitation, exhaustion of non-renewable resources and pollution.
The prevailing climate in Jordan is semi-arid. Only the highlands in the west and northwest can be
characterized as Mediterranean. Jordan receives an average yearly amount of precipitation ranging
from 30mm in the southeast and east to about 600mm in the northwest (DOM, 2004). Compared to
this evaporation is very high: in the cooler north-western areas, it is about 1800 mm/a, in the
southeast it goes up to 4200 mm/a. This is respectively, three and 140 times the amount of average
Perennial water in Jordan is found mainly in the rivers and wadis of Yarmouk, Zerka, Mujib,
Zerka-Ma'in and Hasa. These discharge water during all seasons into the Jordan River, the Dead
Sea and Wadi Araba, but its ultimate destination is the Dead Sea. In addition to rivers and wadis,
the Azraq Oasis, situated 100 km to the east of Amman, holds water in all seasons. These sources,
excluding the jointly-owned Yarmouk River, discharge approximately 160 MCM (million m³)
annually, less than the average discharge of the Nile in one day and less than that of the Euphrates
The groundwater resources of the country are of two origins:
2) fossil groundwater, which receives no or only a very small amount of recharge.
The latter is non-renewable in technical terms and the exploitation is equivalent to a mining
process. The fossil groundwater resources are mainly found in the southern and eastern parts of the
country. They infiltrated into the aquifers tens of thousands of years ago, when the prevailing
climate was more humid (LLOYD, 1969). Such water can be considered a reserve for dry years.
The renewable groundwater resources of Jordan without the Yarmouk, amount to about
340 MCM/a. They suffice for the greater part of domestic, industrial, and agricultural needs of the
II. Evaluation of the Water Sector Situation
As mentioned above, water resources development is of great concern and forms a major target for
the country. Dams were constructed, irrigation canals were built, and domestic water supplies were
extended to serve 96 % of the inhabitants including the remote and sparsely populated areas of the
country. Even in areas where the source of water lies tens of kilometres away from the settlement,
water was brought to the inhabitants through pipe connections. 24 cities and towns accommodating
around 70 % of Jordan's population are now served by sanitary sewage systems and waste water
In the Jordan Valley area, the King Abdullah Canal (formerly the East Ghor Canal) was
constructed along the eastern bank of the Jordan River. It extends some 110 km and irrigates
17,000 hc. Other irrigation projects were implemented in the southern area of the Dead Sea,
putting around 4,600 hc to use. In addition, the lands of the Jordan Valley lying above the reaches
of the canal were irrigated using the waters of the side wadis and some groundwater, bringing the
total irrigated land in the Jordan Valley to around 28,000 hc (JVA, 2004).
Concerning domestic water supplies, expensive projects proved to be necessary in order to serve
the population centres, which generally lie removed from potential water resources. For example,
the capital Amman gets its domestic water from various sources extending 100 km to the east
(Azraq) and 55 km to the west (Jordan Valley area), with pumping heads of up to 650 m and
1400 m respectively, in addition to friction heads. This is, for a non-oil-producing country, a very
Water use and resources development
The population of Jordan of presently 5.4 million inhabitants is growing at the high rate of 2.9 %/a
(DOS, 2004). That rate is not expected to decrease in the next one to two decades. Accordingly, the
population of Jordan is expected to grow to 6.4 million by the year 2010 and to 8.5 million by
2020, i.e., doubling each 23 years. If living standards and population structure remain at their
present state, domestic water use will also double in the same time period. Any rise in living
standards or social-structure order will result in higher demands, which will exceed double the
The actual present per capita daily water use is 85 l. Of the present total amount of water pumped
to consumers of about 260 MCM/a, one quarter, is lost through corroded leaky pipes, another
quarter is used illegally (not being paid for), and a fraction is used by small-scale industries (WB,
2001). The planned industries are also expected to consume more water. The demand is calculated
to rise from around 45 MCM/a at present to 85 MCM/a by the year 2010 and to 125 MCM/a in
Around 650 MCM/a water were used for irrigation during the last few years, distributed between
surface and groundwater resources (figure 1). Added to domestic and industrial consumption, the
total water use comes to 915 MCM/a. The total extractable and renewable water resources of the
country are around 900 MCM/a. It is worth mentioning at this point that some of the resources are
over-exploited, such as Dhuleil Azraq, Disi, and Wadi Arab, whereas other resources are still
underutilized such as Mujib, Zerka Ma'in and Yarmouk, but projects to utilize them are being
implemented. But in general, the water resources still to be developed are very meager, suffer from
salinity or are partly shared with other countries (SALAMEH AND UDLUFT, 1999).
Even if the amount of water used for irrigation is limited to its present level, and if water projects
and extractions are redistributed to achieve the safe-yield concept, Jordan is now using all its
available and renewable resources and is over drafting its groundwater resources (figure 2).
The increasing demand for water led planners to develop the most accessible sources. Other less
optimal water resources have also been developed, e.g. water from Azraq was piped 100 km to
Amman, causing the groundwater level in that area to drop several meters within a few years. This
resulted in saltwater intrusions from deeper saline aquifers and the drying up of a unique oasis,
thus damaging the natural habitat of the area (SALAMEH, 1996).
Water Use in Jordan
Water use in Jordan over the past years.
Total Demand, Resources & Deficit
Total demand, supply and deficit.
Not only were renewable water resources used, but extractions were expanded to include the fossil
water resources, which have been stored underground for thousands of years. Some of these
resources have been exhausted because their replenishment rates cannot cover the extraction rate.
This is the case in Dhuleil and Jafr. The Azraq and Disi areas are now also threatened to meet the
In the past, failure to carefully plan some water projects has resulted in exhaustion or damage to
Pollution and over-exploitation
During the last three decades small and medium-sized industries have been established in Jordan,
concentrated mainly in the Amman-Zerka area. Effluents from these industries are only partly
treated and are directly discharged either into the nearby wadis or into the sewerage system,
causing the deterioration of surface and groundwater quality. This type of pollution is limited in its
distribution and extent, and major steps were taken to alleviate its effects.
The major pollution problems are the result of inadequate treatment of domestic wastewater
inefficient wastewater treatment plants, the choice of inferior waste water treatment systems and
Jordan's scarce water resources, lack of perennial flows, hot climate and relatively low per-capita
use of water result in a dense waste water with highly concentrated pollution parameters, which
renders the current unsuitably chosen treatment plants and technologies inadequate. The
insufficiently treated effluents are not diluted, due to the scarcity of perennial water such as rivers.
The toxicity of effluents and the hot climate accelerate eutrophication processes in surface-water
bodies, rendering the main reservoirs highly eutrophic (ageing lakes). The effects of treatment-
plant effluents are also damaging to the groundwater resources, especially the effluents of waste
stabilization ponds in the Khirbet es Samra (Amman-Zerka area), Mafraq, Aqaba and Ramtha
areas. Waste-stabilization ponds have proved to be unsuitable for countries with poor water
resources, where sewage is very concentrated, evaporation rates are high, and where no dilution
takes place, added to the problem of the extremely unwise choice of treatment sites. The wrong
choice of solid-waste disposal sites and methods has led to deterioration of both surface and
Over-exploitation of aquifers on the account of the country’s reserves of non-renewable and fossil
water is gradually leading to aquifer depletion and exhaustion. In certain areas, e.g. Dhuleil Jafr,
Azraq, over-exploitation is also leading to aquifer salinisation by the mobilization of saltwater
bodies which are in contact with the fresh water resources.
Most of the groundwater in Jordan is extracted from the north-eastern part of the Amman Zarka
Basin. The rate of pumping, especially for agricultural purposes, has by far exceeded the amounts
that are naturally recharged by rainfall. The safe-yield of all aquifers of the country can now hardly
cover the municipal and industrial demand, nonetheless these groundwater resources are over-
exploited at a rate of approximately 300 MCM/a, mainly used in irrigation along the highlands
Even if no groundwater were allowed to be used for irrigation and if groundwater quality
deterioration were stopped immediately, the groundwater stock of Jordan would not recover. The
incurred damage during the eighties and nineties is irreparable, and irreversible if groundwater
bodies are not allowed to recover by a policy aiming at extracting amounts less than the safe-
The choices for increasing water resources within Jordan are limited to sea-water desalinization at
Aqaba and treated waste water reuse. The first choice is very expensive and can hardly be
accommodated within the economy of the country since fuel has to be imported. In 2003, 27
desalination plants were available and seven plants were under construction. Most of the plants are
operated privately by farmers to desalinate brackish water for irrigation purposes. Only some
plants are operated by WAJ (Water Authority of Jordan) for drinking purposes. WAJ operates four
existing desalination plants and further two are under construction. All these plants are run or will
be run by WAJ to treat saline water for drinking water supply. The units are all of a small size
compared with plants e.g. in the Gulf Region (some 8,000 m³/d). In 2003 23 desalination plants for
irrigation purposes were under operation, while further three were under construction. The first
unit started operating in 1996. All plants are constructed and run privately by farmers. In all plants
reverse osmosis technology is applied. The capacity of the plants are 20 - 80 m³/h (total capacity
Intersea Desalination Scheme (Red-Dead Project)
The Red-Dead Project foresees a connection between the Red and the Dead Sea. The difference of
the water level between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea of about 400 m would offer good conditions
for hydropower generation. Generated electric power will be used for the desalination process.
141 km of tunnel and closed pipe as well as 39 km of an open channel are required to conduct
seawater from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. The intake structure is planned to be at Aqaba. An
alignment of the transfer pipe will be constructed along Wadi Araba/Arava. A reverse osmosis
plant will be located south of the Dead Sea.
In 2002, 19 wastewater treatment plants were in operation including the plants of Wadi Hassan and
Wadi Mousa (completed 2001/02). Planned development of wastewater treatment foresees in
addition the construction of 17 new plants is proposed during a period of 10 to 12 years. After
completion of all planned measures the total number of treatment plants will increase to 36. In
several of the newly planned treatment plants sand filtration is proposed as tertiary treatment
instead of maturation ponds. Based on the existing studies and reports on the planning of related
sewerage systems as advised by the various studies, wastewater quantities were estimated up to the
target year 2020. Effluent quantities of the plants were estimated based on inflow and on a
reduction caused by losses due to evaporation and/or infiltration in the underground within the
treatment plants. Table 1 shows the total wastewater inflow and effluent of the treatment plants
taking into account the assumptions presented above.
With regard to future reuse of treated waste water in most of the new planned treatment plants
local reuse systems were selected in particular for the small treatment plants of low effluent
quantities. However, most of the effluent quantity will be conducted to irrigation systems more or
less far from the treatment plants site due to the fact that the treated wastewater of the big plants
(e.g. As Samra, Zarqa, Irbid) is not reused close to the treatment facilities.
Another alternative to be considered is importing water from other countries. A feasibility of the
Euphrates River was carried out, but no further action was taken because of the riparian rights of
that river and the high cost of implementing the project (HUMPHREYS AND PARTNERS, 1985).
Future development of wastewater treatment
Including touristic and industrial inflows
General Assessment of the Water Sector Situation
Only expensive projects to utilize water resources can postpone Jordan’s crisis a little longer. But
even limiting agricultural uses at their present water-consumption rate, allowing domestic demand
to cover only the natural increase of population without any rise in living standards or in per-capita
consumption and letting planned industries obtain minimal amounts of their needed water, using
all the available resources and developing them to safe-yield limits, will only satisfy this restricted
The government of Jordan pays the capital cost of all the large irrigation projects. Although it is
expected that farmers would irrigate their crops more efficiently if irrigation water prices reflected
the actual cost, subsidizing irrigation water is still government policy. Pricing this water artificially
low has led to the inability to satisfy the demand. Users of fossil-water resources for irrigation in
Azraq, Dhuleil, Disi and other areas pay only for the pumping costs, but not for exhausting these
non-renewable national resources. Current practice in this area will certainly lead to the depletion
and the loss of the nation's future water and food security. Paying a certain cost now might lead to
saving and conserving at least part of the water and may be to reconsideration of the economic
In the coming decade high-cost projects and environmental hazards will make large water projects
unattractive and difficult to implement. Therefore, policymakers have started recently to change
their strategies to lower the demand for and increase the efficiency of water instead of increasing
The increasing demand for water, as a result of population growth and improvements in the
standards of living, is gradually leading to competition for the water resources. Projects of
additional supplies are becoming more and more expensive and very scarce because of the
unavailability of additional resources. Such a situation is expected to gradually lead to economic
consideration of water supply and allocation practices.
In the past four decades social and political issues determined the water use allocations in the
country. But the scarcity of water and the expenses of allocating new resources require new
Water allocations for certain agricultural activities may have to be curtailed, which may in turn
cause difficult socio-economic and political problems (more expenditure on foreign currency,
increasing unemployment, less food production and eventually social unrest).
The increasing demand for water and the competition among water use sectors made the
management and development of the water sector through the policy of project-by-project, area-
by-area or users group-by-users group planning insufficient. Therefore, the Ministry of Water and
Irrigation has recently developed a water strategy with adequate dynamic instruments to enable
The change to an efficient water economy is not an easy task. But this change has recently started
in Jordan. The technologies for that are available. Therefore, allocation of more funds to
improving the efficiency of water systems is rendering unnecessary expensive, environmentally
unsound projects, such as some of those carried out during the eighties and nineties of the last
The present shortage in water resources and the expected sharpening of demand should give rise to
water policies involving more efficient conservation systems rather than the traditional search for
new resources. The challenge facing us is to develop and introduce the necessary technologies for
water and waste water systems. The increase in population makes this challenge more difficult.
The traditional policy of developing new resources to satisfy needs is, in the case of Jordan, almost
exhausted. Now is the time to formulate new policies and change management strategies.
Investment in leakage detection and maintenance is a more economical way to increase the
efficiency of water supply. Water leaking from pipes represents a great loss since, although it has
been collected, purified, pumped and distributed, it does not reach the consumer to pay for it. It is
now necessary for waste water treatment and reuse to become an integral part of water services.
Although waste water is polluted, proper treatment can make its application in irrigation quite safe.
It also has advantages over fresh water: waste water contains the nutrients necessary to support
In the year 2001, the country's total water demand was in the range of 1350 MCM/a, of which only
774 MCM/a was supplied due to water shortages. It is expected that this demand will reach
1565 MCM/a by year 2010 (figures 3 and 4). By 2020 the demand will be around 1616 MCM/a,
with the increase in demand being mostly needed by municipal and industrial uses. Increased
population, and urbanisation, in addition to improved standards of living are expected to boost
municipal uses from its current level of 83 l/c/d, to 142 l/c/d by the year 2020. The irrigation
demand will decrease starting 2005, when demand management measures show results, and sink
further after 2010, when the irrigation with fossil groundwater in the Disi area as recommended
stops. Also, the relative amount of irrigation water of the total demand will be decreasing, to about
60% in 2020 from 73% in 1998. It is foreseeable that especially irrigation demands cannot be met
within the planning horizon from 2005-2020. Total renewable water resources will not exceed
The challenge for Jordan will be to match the foreseen demands with the available conventional
and non-conventional resources. The National Water Master Plan (NWMP, 1977) gives the
guidelines that originate from the balancing between water demands and resources. In order not to
overuse the available resources, especially renewable groundwater, Jordan’s water demands need
to be in accordance with what water can be made available at reasonable cost and lowest possible
environmental impact. Embedded in the gross demand projections as outlined above are
assumptions related to the effect of demand management:
• Water loss reduction programs to reduce the municipal network physical losses. A total
saving of 100 MCM/a in municipal demand will thus be realised. Actual amounts of
savings will depend eventually on amounts of water allocated for this sector. This
reduction in physical losses should also contribute to savings in tourism demand estimated
• Irrigation savings are showing, due to gradual use of more effective irrigation methods;
potential savings in the upland could amount to 31 MCM/a. This should release some
pressure off the over-stretched groundwater resources. Savings in lining of canals in the
uplands would result in releasing a further 5 to 12 MCM/a by the year 2020. Potential
savings in the Jordan Valley estimated at about 20 MCM/a should allow expansion of
irrigated agriculture in the region by 3270-3830 ha compared with areas irrigated in 1998.
Alternatively it should allow transfer of the same amount of fresh water to the urban areas
in the uplands. These and a wealth of other demand management measures are and will be
necessary to bring down the present and projected demand to the available resources, in
addition to reallocation between sectors.
Total water demand in 1998 and future demand projections (MCM/a).
Total Gross Demands per Governorate 2005-2020 (MCM/year)
III. Recently undertaken strategies and programs to improve the water situation
Groundwater Resources Planning and Development
The basic strategy and policies for the water sector in Jordan are compiled and published in
Jordan's Water Strategy and Policies (MWI, 1998). One of the main objectives for the future is the
reduction of groundwater abstraction to the level of safe-yield to guarantee a sustainable use of the
scarce groundwater resources in Jordan. The quantity of Jordan's economically developable
renewable groundwater is approximately 300 MCM/a. The reduction of groundwater abstraction is
assessed as being achievable by the year 2020. If this goal is not achieved, irreparable damages of
groundwater will occur, leading to a further reduction of the usable groundwater resources. A
comparison of groundwater abstraction rates with the safe-yield in different basins in Jordan
shows, that a reduction in groundwater abstraction must be done mainly in Amman-Zarqa, Dead
Sea, Azraq, Yarmouk, Jordan Valley and Jafr basins. A reduction scheme for the Ministry of
Water and Irrigation is developed. It states, that the use of renewable groundwater for municipal
and mainly irrigation water use will be reduced until 2020 in order to reach the safe-yield. From a
practical point of view the reduction of the abstraction must be done stepwise. A proposed
reduction schemes from 1998-2020 is developed. It relies on the findings of water balances and the
results of water balances and allocation. As a consequence the reduction of groundwater
abstraction leads to a deficit in water supply. To bridge the gap, different options are available
such as: use of known fresh fossil groundwater, use of known brackish groundwater, prospection
and development of unused groundwater resources and increase of artificial groundwater recharge.
Groundwater Protection and Quality Conservation
For groundwater protection, the development and implementation of a programme is needed in
order to ensure that plans for groundwater protection, management, monitoring and restoration are
defined, integrated and managed in a cost-effective manner.
It should be noted that from the legal and regulatory point of view, the existing laws in Jordan are
strong enough to control the use of groundwater resources and protect groundwater. However,
until now the application of these laws is still unsatisfactory, thus suggesting the need for future
To improve groundwater protection several groundwater protections projects were implemented in
the past. The main project is the "Groundwater Resources Management" project, which is carried
out together with the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR). The
objective is to elaborate and implement groundwater protection measures by implementing
groundwater protection areas in Jordan and applying concepts for groundwater contamination
prevention. In order to implement the Groundwater Protection Areas in the country, a "Higher
Committee for Water Resources Protection" was established, with the aim of preparing national
guidelines for the delineation of groundwater protection areas, and to propose corresponding by-
laws. The establishment of groundwater protection zones is initiated in the public interest and will
be coordinated by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation under the WATER AUTHORITY LAW (1988)
with its subsequent amendments as well as on the By-Law of the WATER AUTHORITY OF JORDAN
Well drilling prohibition
Driven by depleting aquifers and deteriorating water qualities the Ministry of Water and
Irrigation (MoWI) approved in the early nineties of the last century a by-law prohibiting the
drilling of new wells in most parts of the country, where aquifers were afflicted by
depletion and quality degradation. Exempt of this by-law were only new wells for governmental
municipal water supply, universities, hospitals and military camps. In addition repairs of existing
wells were allowed, but only with the same specifications of the well to be substituted. All drilling
companies were officially informed about the new by- law and about the fines introduced against
those who violate the by- laws (worth mentioning here is that groundwater levels in Jordan
generally lie tens to hundreds of meters below ground surface and therefore manual excavations
Impacts on water resources
The by-law prohibiting the drilling of new wells did not allow the acceleration of depletion and
salinisation of aquifers. It did not stop them, they continued at their same rates without additional
In Jordan around 300 MCM/a of groundwater are extracted for agricultural uses. The number of
applications for drilling licenses (before issuing the drilling prohibition by-law) were around 5% of
all existing farmer wells per year. These applications were about to start declining as a ratio of the
total wells when the by-law was issued. Due to the fact that no permissions were issued to drill
new wells, the savings in the first year after prohibition were around 15 MCM. This saving was
expected to gradually decline to around 10 MCM in this last year. The total savings in the year
2001 are then estimated at 125 MCM (MWI internal reports). The total savings in all the years
1991-2001 are calculated to sum up to 750 MCM. This water is now still stored in the aquifers and
has been saved from being extracted and consumed in irrigation.
Putting a price for the extracted non-agricultural water
In 1998, a new tool for groundwater resources management was applied. According to that, a new
regulation was issued putting a price for all the extracted groundwater used for purposes, except
irrigation, but including industrial, commercial, universities, military, hospital and municipal uses.
The charge was a flat rate of 100fils ($US 0.15) per cubic meter. On all wells producing water for
the above uses mentioned above, water meters were installed and read on a regular basis. The
MoWI was commissioned to read the meters and collect the bills. In 1999 the per cubic meter
charge was raised to 250 fils equivalent to $US 0.37 (WAJ, 2000).
Effects on the groundwater resources
Industries in water stressed areas in Jordan, especially in the Amman-Zerka area used to have
difficulties in obtaining enough water from their own wells especially during the dry season,
because the aquifers become overused and partly depleted. Therefore, the metering and fees
collection regulation forced them to recycle water and to installed water saving devices.
The other industries found it more economic to apply in-plant recycling and to install water saving
devices. Savings, in general are estimated at around 10% of the total used amounts in industry,
which is equivalent to 4.5 MCM/yr. Worth mentioning here that savings and recycling have their
upper limits and before the application of metering and fee collection instructions some industries
were very close to the upper limit of savings and recycling with reasonable cost.
Charging the groundwater amounts abstracted for agricultural uses
In 1999 the MoWI took a decision to install water meters on all the wells pumping water for
agricultural uses. The first target of this program was to measure the abstracted amounts from each
aquifer. The second came to remind farmers to abstract only the amounts of water stated in their
Effects on the groundwater resources
Practically the effects on the groundwater bodies have not yet been measured because the
installation of meters has started only about 4 years ago and the reactions of groundwater bodies
does not happen that fast. Due to the decrease in amounts of produced groundwater it is logical to
expect a decline in the depletion and salinisation rates of aquifers and hence linger life periods of
Metering water amounts extracted for irrigational uses
The MoWI started one year ago to charge the groundwater extracted for agricultural uses for
amounts exceeding the requirements of family businesses. It is also introduced a block type of
tariffs, where charges increase with the increasing amounts of extracted water.
Metering and pricing regulations are expected to result in saving appreciable amounts of
groundwater, alleviating herewith over-exploitation and salinization of aquifers. As a result of that
policy measure, farmers started to rethink their water use efficiency, to introduce water saving
devices and to choose crops requiring less water.
Jordan has national laws that authorize activities to conserve water. These laws are based upon the
policy to put water resources to the maximum possible benefit.
The first steps toward a solution to the problem of over-extraction of groundwater resources has
been implemented by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation
Together with the metering, pricing and the prohibition of drilling will certainly lead to further
savings and conservation of the groundwater resources and to shift to low water-consuming crops
In the case of industrial water it has already lead to the introduction of water saving devices in-
plant water recycling and reuse of treated wastewater.
Improved conveyance system to reach at a higher efficiency and introduction of water saving
application systems in irrigated agriculture have become obligatory to farmers and well owners,
because the extracted groundwater is priced and farmers have to pay for it.
Also charging price for the extracted fresh groundwater is expected to encourage farmers to use
any available treated wastewater or brackish water for those crops tolerating these types of water.
Despite the considerable accomplishments, Jordan’s water sector remains in critical condition,
where water needs exceed water supply. This situation will sharpen and the gap between demand
and supply will widen due to population growth. In addition, pollution of water resources and
salinisation due to over pumping are destroying major water sources leading herewith to lowering
the available, usable amounts of water. Therefore, further managerial actions are still necessary to
reach an environmental and hydrogeological safe situation.
DOM (Department of Meteorology) (2004)
: Annual reports, Amman/Jordan.
DOS (Department of Statistics) (2004):
Annual reports, Amman/Jordan.
JVA (Jordan Valley Authority) (2004)
: Open files and annual reports, Amman/Jordan.
LLOYED, J. W. (1996):
The hydrogeology of the southern desert of Jordan, UNDP/FA212, Tech
MOWI (Ministry of Water and Irrigation) (2004)
: Annual report, Amman/Jordan.
National Water Master Plan, Jordan. Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und
SALAMEH, E. (1996):
Water quality degradation in Jordan. Royal Society for the conservation of
Nature and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Amman.
SALAMEH, E. AND UDLUFT, P. (1999):
Towards a water strategy for Jordan. Hydrogeologie und
HUMPHRIES, H. AND PARTNERS (1985):
River Euphretes. MoP, Ministry of Planning, Jordan.
WAJ (Water Authority of Jordan) (2000):
Open files and annual reports, Amman/Jordan.
WATER AUTHORITY LAW (1988):
Government of Jordan, Amman/Jordan.
WATER AUTHORITY BY-LAW (2002):
Government of Jordan, Amman/Jordan.
WB (WORLD BANK) (2001):
Water sector review update. Report No.21946-JO.
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