by Hana Namrouqa | Oct 30, 2012

AMMAN — Storage at the country’s major dams is low and at “discouraging levels” despite the heavy rain in the northern region earlier this week, a government official said on Tuesday.

Although the country witnessed rainfall during Eid Al Adha, which caused floods in the northern governorates and flashfloods in Aqaba, water levels in the Kingdom’s dams remain unchanged, Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) Secretary General Saad Abu Hammour said.

“The country’s major dams currently hold only 50 million cubic metres (mcm) of water, which is far less than the amount they held during this time last year,” Hammour told The Jordan Times.

The major dams — excluding Wihdeh where storage is still experimental — currently hold around 23 per cent of their total capacity of 215mcm, while during this time last year they held 59mcm or 27.5 per cent of their total capacity, according to figures from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

“Rainfall is delayed this year and we are still pumping water to citrus farms, but last year at this time we had stopped pumping water because it had rained adequately,” Abu Hammour said.

Meanwhile, Muntasir Momani, head of the Ajloun Water Directorate, noted that the heavy rain on Saturday had failed to raise dam levels or replenish springs in the governorate, 76 kilometres northwest of Amman.

“The springs will need more time and heavier rain to be rejuvenated,” Momani told The Jordan Times.

The JVA said the dams are ready to store rainwater after a technical committee examined their preparedness, storage conditions and equipment.

Teams removed sediment from the dams to increase their capacity and prevent water salinity, and also cleaned up their shorelines, according to the JVA.

The Kingdom’s 10 major dams are: King Talal, Wadi Al Arab, Sharhabil, Kafrein, Wadi Shuaib, Karameh, Tannour, Waleh, Mujib and Wihdeh.

Dams, though expensive to construct, are one of the main ways the country depends on to secure its water needs.

The Kingdom relies mainly on rainwater, but only 1.1 per cent of its total area receives an average of 400-600 millimetres of rain, according to the ministry.

Approximately 91 per cent of Jordan’s total area of 97,000 square kilometres is situated in arid areas with an annual rainfall average of 50-200 millimetres, while 2.9 per cent of the country’s land is categorised as semi-arid.

The first rainfall is witnessed in mid-September or early October, while the wet season usually continues until February, according to the Jordan Meteorological Department.