By Hana Namrouqa

JERASH – Residents of Jerash Governorate will start receiving water once a week instead of every 14 days in May after the Mashtal Feisal wells start operating at full capacity, a senior government official said on Monday.

The wells will pump 240 cubic metres of water per hour, which is expected to partially address the water crisis in Jerash, where water per capita is considered the lowest in the country.

The Mashtal Feisal water wells started operations in September last year, in response to an unprecedented water crisis in the northern governorates, particularly Jerash and Ajloun, which left households without water for weeks during the hottest month of the year.

Currently, only two of the four Mashtal Feisal wells operate, after lab tests indicated that the water contains a high percentage of iron.

The quality of water pumped from the wells is good, water officials said yesterday, but once it enters the pipes the quality declines due to chemical interaction with the metal of the pipes.

“The contractor is currently changing the pipes and they will be ready to operate at full capacity within two months,” Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar told Jerash residents during a meeting at the municipality yesterday.

The minister said work is also ongoing to rehabilitate water networks in the governorate in order to improve water supply and reduce water loss.

“Hopefully there will be no water problems in Jerash similar to what you have faced last year… there have been mistakes which we take responsibility for and will work to avoid in the future,” Najjar told the residents.

Frequent power cuts due to record high temperatures in August last year caused water pumps to shut down, disrupting the water distribution programme and leaving hundreds of households without water for weeks.

There are around 250,000 water subscribers in the northern governorates, according to ministry’s figures, which indicate that water per capita in Jerash is estimated at 80 litres per day, well below the national average of 130 litres.

During the meeting with the minister, several residents complained about the lack of sewage services in their areas, despite the fact that they have been paying for such services for years.

“There are over 2,500 cesspits in northern Jerash which are dug randomly and leak… I demand that households in Jerash be connected to the sewage network as soon as possible,” one Jerash resident said during the meeting.

Najjar said households that are not connected to the sewage network should not pay fees for sewage services, which constitute 3 per cent of the property tax, and asked them to apply for a refund from the ministry.

The minister underscored that a lack of funds hinders the ministry from connecting all households to the sewage network, noting that the cost of one connection ranges between JD8,000-JD10,000.