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Ministry cracks down on dozens of water system violators

By Hana Namrouqa - Apr 10,2016 - Last updated at Apr 10,2016

AMMAN — Authorities have uncovered 90 violations on water networks and resources during the past two weeks in west Amman's Wadi Al Seer area, an official at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said on Saturday.

The violators diverted water from main pipelines and dug illegal wells, according to the official, who noted that the offenders were diverting the water to irrigate crops and sell water via tankers.

In addition, the ministry and security forces sealed 12 illegal wells in different parts of the country during the past two weeks, thus raising the number of sealed illegal wells since the launch of the national crackdown on water theft in 2013 to 747, the official, who preferred to remain unnamed, told The Jordan Times.   

The ministry banned the drilling of wells in 1997 to curb random pumping of water and preserve aquifers from depletion and salinity. Its estimates indicate that there are still 1,100-1,200 illegal wells across the country.

Sealing illegal wells and stopping attempts to dig new ones across the country have resulted in saving 80mcm of underground water over the past three years, while ending violations on water networks and resources has succeeded in saving 30mcm of freshwater that was being diverted from main carriers, according to recent figures from the ministry.

"Also during the past two weeks, we have dismantled 607 illegal fixtures across the Kingdom, thus the number of recorded violations on the water network and resources increased to 22,305 since the campaign was launched," the official said.

In the Jordan Valley, authorities ended 344 violations on the 110-kilometre-long King Abdullah Canal, which is supplied by the Yarmouk River to irrigate 40 per cent of the valley's arable lands and provide the capital with some 40 per cent of its water needs after processing the water at the Zai Water Treatment Plant.

The ministry is paying hundreds of thousands of dinars every month to implement the ongoing campaign, as it entails the deployment of technical teams, new technologies and heavy machinery to remove violations, while the Jordan Valley Authority is spending JD500,000 every year to replace and install new fences, security systems and warning signs on King Abdullah Canal and the dams, officials at the ministry said recently.

The amended Water Authority of Jordan Law stipulates stiffer penalties against violators.
Those who abuse water carriers and mains, wastewater, pumping, purification or desalination stations, or pollute water resources, pipes or stations used for drinking water, and dig or are involved in the digging of wells without obtaining a licence, face a prison sentence of up to five years and fines up to JD7,000.


In addition, violators of water and waste water projects are jailed for up to three years and fined a maximum of JD5,000 under the law.
All penalties are doubled in the case of repeated offences.

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