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Water Resources Management in Jordan

In terms of the water available to each citizen, Jordan is one of the ten driest nations in the world. The average American has access to 45 times more water each year than the typical Jordanian.

Already scarce water resources will soon be stretched even thinner by a population projected to double in less than 25 years.

Jordan’s booming population drives demand for water, but it also promotes unregulated development, which pollutes the groundwater on which people depend.

Many households dispose of their waste in natural cesspits, which can quickly contaminate groundwater supplies with pathogenic microorganisms. Pesticides, fertilizers, and other pollutants add to a mix that has polluted some springs and wells to the point where disinfection treatments alone cannot provide safe drinking water.

The Jordan Water Quality Management Project (JWQMP) was launched to ensure safe water supplies and more efficient use of the country’s aquatic resources. The initiative is being funded by USAID in cooperation with the Water Authority of Jordan and the Ministry of Health.

The JWQMP has boosted watershed management efforts, to help maximize the amount of water available for treatment, and increased quality monitoring regimes on both source water and post-treatment drinking water.

Authorities have also established groundwater protection zones in sensitive locales—like wadis—to minimize source water contamination.

In all these efforts, building partnerships with local stakeholders has been key. The JWQMP has promoted an aggressive public awareness campaign through mosques, schools, and the media to be sure that the people understand how their actions affect the water supply, and the ways they can protect this precious resource.

Much has been accomplished in Jordan, yet many challenges remain for this arid land.

Vast reserves of the nation’s water are used to nurture agricultural crops, but some may be put to much better economic advantage elsewhere. For example, using treated wastewater for agriculture could result in a 50 percent water supply gain for Amman—home to about half of all Jordanians.

The nation’s distribution network is also inefficient; about half of Amman’s water supply is lost at unknown points within this network.

Currently Jordan is quenching its thirst by tapping deep-water aquifers, but this practice cannot continue forever. This ‘fossilized water’ was created during ancient eras and is a non-renewable resource. It’s essential, therefore, that Jordan make effective use of every drop.

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