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Ministry adamant on drinking water safety, urges patience

No compromise of public health as interruptions linked to purification process — spokesperson

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Dec 11,2019 - Last updated at Dec 11,2019

AMMAN — The Water Ministry is committed to delivering drinking water compatible with Jordanian standards and if any contamination is detected, the affected water source will be temporarily blocked until purification has been completed, ministry spokesperson Omar Salameh said on Wednesday.

In light of the current scarcity of water resources, Salameh said in a statement shared with The Jordan Times that the ministry “does not have the option of switching sources in case of contamination”, which forces it to suspend pumping from the source in question to protect the health and safety of those receiving their water from the source.

All water sources in the Kingdom provide around 1,250 million cubic metres (mcm) annually, comprising traditional local surface waters (300mcm), underground aquifers (620mcm) and dams (36mcm), according to Salameh.

There are also non-traditional water sources including water treated in sewage plants, which by the end of 2018 reached around 170mcm, used to a limited extent for agriculture and industry, according to Salameh. 

He added that regional surface water sources, such as the Yarmouk River, water stored in Al Wehdah Dam and Jordan’s share of Lake Tiberias and the King Abdullah Canal, produce around 120mcm annually.

The Water and Irrigation Ministry exercises all its power to provide additional water sources, in spite of the increasing number of users, including refugees and rising number of guests.

The drinking water monitoring system is “firm and accurate”, in accordance with international standards, the spokesperson said, noting that suspending pumping from a water source is not a “simple process” nor is it under the jurisdiction of the ministry alone, but rather requires approvals from the Health Ministry in cooperation with the Royal Scientific Society to ensure water meets the highest standards.

Explaining the causes behind a recently detected contamination in a source that pumps to areas in Amman and Madaba, Salameh said the rainfall in the valley mixed with soil and other contaminants that changed the quality of water, which required suspension of pumping from the treatment stations in order to purify the water before resuming pumping.

Salameh urged the public to exercise patience and cooperation in light of the pressing circumstances, noting that this would be “in everyone’s interests”, while the ministry exerts all its efforts to deal with the situation.

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