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Work under way on water strategy projects — ministry

By Hana Namrouqa - Feb 27,2016 - Last updated at Feb 27,2016

AMMAN — The Water Ministry has started implementing its recently announced 10-year strategy to generate over half-a-billion cubic metres (bcm) of freshwater, officials said Saturday.

Construction of projects to generate freshwater from unconventional resources has started, Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazem Nasser said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times, noting that achieving national water security tops the government's priorities.

"The water projects, which were announced under the 2016-2025 National Water Strategy, are currently under way to generate 550 million cubic metres (mcm), including exploration of new resources to generate 187mcm of freshwater and construction on a project to annually extract 65mcm of deep water from Shidiyeh-Hassa area," Nasser noted.

The ministry's spokesperson, Omar Salameh, told The Jordan Times that studies and blueprints of the Shidiyeh-Hassa Water Conveyance System are almost finalised, while construction on the project will commence next year to improve water supply in the southern, central and northern governorates.

The ministry first announced plans for the Shidiyeh-Hassa Water Conveyance System in mid-2013, when it said that the project entails extracting water from very deep wells, located in the south between the Shidiyeh, Hassa and Qatraneh areas.

Shidiyeh and Hassa are located in Tafileh Governorate, some 180km southwest of Amman, while Qatraneh is located in Karak Governorate, 140km south of the capital.

Nasser previously said that the wells are an extension of the ancient Disi aquifer’s strata, and the project can be completed within one year and would cost JD400 million.

Noting that the wells are 1,500-2,000 metres deep, the minister said in previous remarks to the press that a major part of the project’s infrastructure already exists, referring to an old-water conveyor between Qatraneh, in the south, and Amman, which was scheduled to be used for transferring water from the wells to the capital.

Salameh underscored that construction on several water projects is already under way, such as digging wells in Wadi Husban to generate 10mcm before the end of 2018, in addition to providing an additional 3mcm of water from Kufranjah Dam to supply Ajloun Governorate, 70km northwest of Amman.

In addition, the ministry has started work on the second phase of a project to convey an additional 3mcm of freshwater from the Mujib Dam to enhance supply in Karak Governorate, as well as digging a dozen deep wells in different parts of the country to extract 10mcm of freshwater annually, according to the statement.

In the northern governorates, the minister noted that implementation of the Wadi Al Arab Water Project/2 will commence during this year to generate 30mcm of freshwater and improve water supply in the north, which hosts the majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan.

The ministry launched the strategy last month in response to a drop in the annual per capita share of water by 16 per cent over the past five years and to bridge a growing gap between supply and demand, which has risen by 21 per cent since the Syrian crisis started, according to official figures.

The Water Ministry also seeks, under the new strategy, to increase the storage of the country’s dams by 25 per cent to around 400mcm from the current 325mcm.

In addition, the ministry is relying on its Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project to provide 85mcm of water under its first phase — the implementation of which will occur during the years 2017-2021 — and an additional 150mcm under the project’s second phase, which will be implemented between 2020 and 2025.

The strategy also includes plans to provide 36mcm of surface water for irrigation and other purposes, generate an additional amount of 94mcm of treated wastewater, and develop Wadi Araba at an estimated cost of JD5.5 billion.

Once implemented, the projects will raise the daily water per capita share from the current 80 litres to 105 litres, according to the strategy.

Last year, national water demand stood at 1.205bcm, while supply stood at 972mcm, according to the ministry’s figures, which showed that the water deficit last year was 233mcm.

In 2020, the ministry expects water demand to rise to 1.328bcm and supply to increase to1.148bcm, narrowing the deficit to 180mcm.

By the year 2025, water demand is expected to stand at 1.698bcm, water supply will be 1.558bcm and the deficit will drop to 141mcm after implementing the strategy’s goals and projects.

 

The cost of the 10-year strategy is JD5.3 billion.

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