By Raed Omari

AMMAN – Officials are holding out hope that a series of projects will bring an end to ongoing water distribution issues in Irbid Governorate as residents say they have turned to bottled water to ease their water woes.

Several people living in the northern governorate told The Jordan Times that due to the weak water pressure in the distribution network an inadequate amount of water reaches their roof-top tanks, blaming faulty municipal water pipes for the problem.

Salem Obeidat, who lives in Bani Kenanah District, claimed that 80 per cent of the residents in his village do not receive enough water because of “weak pressure”.

“People in our area have been suffering from acute water shortage since 2008,” he said.

According to Obeidat, when residents reported their concerns to water authorities, officials recommended that Bani Kenanah residents build rainwater reservoirs.

“But they do not know that that this requires a lot of money,” he said.

Northern Mazar faces the same problem, according to Murad Omari, who noted that water supply has “always been a problem” in his village.

“Since our neighbourhood is located at the top of a hilly area, we rarely receive adequate amounts of water,” he said.

Ammar Obeidat, a resident of Rafeed village noted that water supply remains “a huge problem” in the north.

He said that despite assurances from the Irbid Water Directorate and official visits to various regions in the governorate, “so far, nothing tangible has happened”.

Due to the poor water supply, many Irbid residents are turning to costly alternatives, Obeidat told The Jordan Times.

“Because we are not supplied with enough water, we sometimes have to buy water, which many of us cannot afford,” he said.

In addition to supply problems, one Irbid resident believes that water pumped to residential buildings is “sometimes contaminated”.

“I can say positively that recently, the water pumped to our home has been contaminated and could cause diseases,” Mohammad Mashatleh claimed.

But Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) Secretary General Munir Oweis said “water pumped to peoples’ houses is of high quality”, underlining that the Water Ministry in cooperation with the Ministry of Health conducts continuous testing of water resources.

In an interview with The Jordan Times on Monday, he said any issues regarding water quality in the northern governorate would be due to pipes linking the distribution network to homes and not municipal reservoirs and pipes.

Oweis acknowledged that some problems remain in the water distribution programmes, although the overall situation of water in Irbid is “fine”.

He said WAJ and the Ministry of Water are exerting “all possible efforts” to solve water problems in the northern governorate and addressing all complaints lodged by citizens.

“We know that the distribution networks need to be developed, but this requires a lot of money,” he said, indicating that old networks are replaced “whenever funds are available”.

The ministry is currently implementing several projects to solve the water supply problems in the north, according to Nawaf Shobaki, assistant secretary general for the northern region.

These include replacing the current water supply network with newer, high capacity pipelines at a cost of $48 million and installing 14 new pumping stations at a cost of four million euros, expected to be operational by 2011.

Shobaki added that the ministry is currently constructing additional water reservoirs at a cost of $12 million as well as implementing projects worth JD20 million to develop distribution networks in Irbid.