Recent cases of water theft in Muwaqqar and Um Al Amad recorded by the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna) (Photo courtesy of Miyahuna)
Recent cases of water theft in Muwaqqar and Um Al Amad recorded by the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna) (Photo courtesy of Miyahuna)

By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Water theft is being carried out on a larger, more organised scale, costing the capital thousands of cubic metres of water, the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna) warned on Tuesday.

Last week, the company uncovered five cases of water theft that were carried out in a “professional and aggressive manner” and consumed thousands of cubic metres, according to Miyahuna acting Executive Director Saad Abu Hammour.

Four violators in Muwaqqar and one in Um Al Amad in south Amman were found to have been illegally pumping 100 cubic metres per hour over at least the last six months, Abu Hammour said in a press conference yesterday.

“Some people now have reached the point of stealing water directly from the main water pipelines which deliver water to everyone… this is a serious problem that hinders us from doing our duties,” Abu Hammour told the press, calling for amending legislation to toughen punishments to curb the practice.

After receiving a complaint about illegal water usage in Muwaqqar, Miyahuna teams discovered four separate breaches, where water was being siphoned from their 300-millimeter diameter supply pipeline in the district.

“One of the violators extended a 1.5-inch diameter pipe and pumped out 15 cubic metres per hour from our network to irrigate his 150-dunnum farm, fill his swimming pool and sell water to adjacent industries and farms,” Abu Hammour said.

Another violation, which the Miyahuna official described as “the most outrageous” case, was registered last Saturday in Um Al Amad.

According to the company, the violator dug up a main street to reach Miyahuna’s 80-centimetre diameter underground pipe to pump water to his properties.

“The violator extended a two-inch diameter pipe to our pipeline and then repaved the street with asphalt. He used the water to irrigate 40 greenhouses, supply his villa with water and fill up a 100-cubic-metre swimming pool,” Abu Hammour said, noting that each greenhouse consumed 800 cubic metres per day.

As the major pipeline near Um Al Amad is highly pressurised, a total of 60 cubic metres of water was being pumped to the violator per hour, he said.

In response to such illegal water use, the company follows Water Authority of Jordan regulations, according to Mohammad Malkawi, director of Miyahuna’s customer service department.

“Under the authority’s regulations regarding illegal water use, violators are referred to the court for legal action. Our teams removed the unauthorised pipes, but after three days they were back,” Malkawi indicated.

South Amman is considered one of the capitals’ main sources for drinking water as its water wells generate 11-12 million cubic metres annually. Miyahuna supplies over 11,000 customers in south Amman.

But the area constitutes a source of concern to the water company as 7 per cent of the capital’s water is “lost” in south Amman, according to Miyahuna officials, who attributed the water loss to theft.

“Water loss is not only costing us our water, money and other people’s right to equal distribution, but it is also prevents us from receiving loans from international funding agencies, which place reduction of water-loss as a precondition to loan approval,” Abu Hammour noted.

With 700 violations recorded monthly in Amman, the company’s acting executive director urged authorities to review laws and increase punishments for water theft.

“While the current laws call for either fines or imprisonment of violators, we call for a combination of both punishments. Maybe then people will stop,” Abu Hammour said.

Under current regulations, Miyahuna cuts water supply to violators and issues a fine equivalent to the amount of stolen water. Repeat offenders are referred to the court, which then decides the appropriate prison sentence.

Abu Hammour indicated that the company’s lawyer is currently calculating the overall cost of the water lost in the five recent cases in order to present the damages in court.

Each cubic metre costs Miyahuna 700-800 fils, according to the company.