by Hana Namrouqa | Aug 21, 2013

AMMAN — A total of 350,000 cubic metres of water is being lost in the capital each day due to violations on water resources and networks, according to a senior government official.

The violators are illegally pumping water from main networks to either fill their private pools or irrigate their farms, Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazem Nasser said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times.

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation and security forces have registered 5,500 violations in Amman since the start of this year.

“Over the past month alone, our 17 teams, which are escorted by security forces, registered more than 600 violations on household water pipes… in addition, they removed 22 illegal water pipes extended on 800-millimetre water conveyors,” Nasser noted.

The majority of the violations were registered in south Amman, where violators extended illegal pipes to irrigate hundreds of dunums of farmland or fill private pools, a source at the ministry told The Jordan Times, noting that they were either fined or referred to court.

Authorities also seized and confiscated three water well drilling rigs in Amman and Mafraq over the past week, according to the source, who noted that a factory that assembles drilling rigs, located in Irbid, some 80 kilometres north of Amman, was sealed.

Nasser said the campaign, launched two months ago, is proving to be a success, highlighting that underground aquifers are facing depletion due to over pumping from licensed and illegal wells.

The ministry banned the drilling of water wells in 1997 to limit random pumping of water and preserve aquifers from depletion and salinity. There are 1,318 wells across the country, of which more than 400 are unlicensed or illegal, according to ministry figures.

A total of 131 water well drilling rigs have been seized and confiscated since the campaign was launched.

Over 55 violations on the Kingdom’s main water networks were recorded last year, according to the ministry’s figures, which also indicated that 50 violations were registered in 2011 and 52 in 2010.

Under Article 30 of the Water Authority of Jordan Law, violators are fined up to JD5,000 and jailed for two years, while Article 456 of the Penal Code stipulates that violators of water networks face three- to six-month prison terms and fines ranging between JD100 and JD1,000.