By Hana Namrouqa – Jun 04,2016
AMMAN — Authorities sealed two wells and confiscated a truck in Irbid as the national campaign against water theft continues, officials said on Saturday.

A team from the Water Authority of Jordan and security forces carried out inspections on Wednesday in Irbid’s Taibeh town following a tip-off about illegal drilling, and discovered two recently-drilled wells, said Water Minister Hazem Nasser in a statement.

“Work was also under way to install pumps at the wells to extract water, as well as pipes to irrigate farms and fill water tankers,” Nasser said.

Authorities identified the owner of the farm where the wells were found and are looking for him, a ministry official said.

Also on Wednesday, the team confiscated a drilling rig truck falsely carrying the name of the Natural Resources Authority, according to the official.

“The truck owner printed the name of the institution to remove doubt about his attempt to drill a well. He was arrested along with the owner of the farm where he was drilling, “the official told The Jordan Times.

Nasser said 17 teams are inspecting different locations across the Kingdom as part of the national campaign to end violations of the water network and resources.

He said the ministry would show “no leniency” towards those caught stealing water.

Since the launch of the campaign in 2013, authorities have identified 22,305 violations on water mains and resources and sealed 747 illegal wells, according to official figures.

The ministry banned the drilling of wells in 1997 to curb random pumping of water and preserve aquifers from depletion and salinity. Its estimates indicate that there are still 1,100-1,200 illegal wells still operating across the country.

The amended Water Authority of Jordan Law stipulates stiffer penalties against those who abuse any element of the water system.

Those who abuse water carriers and mains, wastewater, pumping, purification or desalination stations, or cause the pollution of water resources, pipes or stations used for drinking water, or are involved in the digging of wells without obtaining a licence, face a prison sentence of up to five years and fines up to JD7,000.

In addition, violators who cause damage or loss to water and wastewater projects are jailed for up to three years and fined up to JD5,000, according to the amendments.

All penalties stipulated under the law are doubled in the case of repeat offences.

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