By Hana Namrouqa – Jan 17,2018

AMMAN — With rain forecast for this weekend, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation on Wednesday urged the public to collect rainwater off rooftops for future use during the hot season.

By simply cleaning up the roofs of the buildings ahead of winter to clear dirt and pollutants, people can secure a good reserve of pure water that can be used for all domestic purposes, the ministry said, urging all sectors of the community to harvest rainwater.

In light of the increasing demand for water with the influx of Syrian refugees and the changing climate causing less precipitation during the rainy season, collecting rainwater off rooftops is a necessity, not an option, officials at the ministry said on Wednesday.

Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazim El Naser said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times that the annual water per capita share has dropped to below 100 cubic metres of water since the Syrian crisis, which forced over 1.4 million Syrians to seek refuge in Jordan; which is 16 per cent lower than the international water poverty line,

Added to the fact that Jordan’s climate is arid to semi-arid and that precipitation trends have been shifting over the years due to climate change, rainwater harvesting at the domestic and individual levels is pivotal, El Naser said.

A 150-square-metre house can collect at least 50 cubic metres of pure water annually by channeling rainwater to cisterns, according to the minister, who said that the figure applies to areas with an average annual rainfall of 350 millimetres (mm).

Several parts of the Kingdom, including the heavily populated Zarqa Governorate, 22km northeast of Amman, receive around 350mm of rainfall annually, according to the ministry, which said that the capital receives even higher amounts of rain.

“This figure of 50 cubic metres represents 30 per cent of a household’s annual water need average. The amount can be left as a strategic reserve for summer when demand for water surges or in case of any water cut,” the minister underlined.

Approximately 91 per cent of Jordan is arid with an average annual rainfall of 50-200mm, while 2.9 per cent of the country’s land is categorised as semi-arid. Just 1.1 per cent of Jordanian land receives an average of 400-600mm of rain a year, according to official figures.

If 20 per cent of the buildings in the Kingdom collected rainwater during the wet season, some 43 million cubic metres could be accumulated, El Naser said in the statement, indicating that the amount constitutes 16 per cent of the water supplied to people for domestic purposes.

In addition to building up a water reserve for the summer, collected rainwater can also reduce a household’s water bill by 40 per cent, Nasser noted.

Ministry’s Spokesperson Omar Salameh said that the increase in the construction of buildings across the country has not been coupled with an increase in applying the “simple” rainwater harvesting techniques.

“The law stipulates that a cistern for storing rainwater must be built as part of any under-construction building, but contractors are not abiding by this and they pay a fine instead of building the cistern,” Salameh told The Jordan Times.

He underlined that, in addition to the fact that collecting rainwater from rooftops is very feasible and easy, the quality of rainwater is high and the value of the water bill can be almost cut down by half.