By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is currently drafting an emergency water plan in light of an “unprecedented absence of rain”, a government official said on Wednesday.

Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar has instructed the Water Authority of Jordan and the Jordan Valley Authority to draft an emergency water plan to identify available sources of drinking and irrigation water in response to the poor rainy season, which has negatively affected the country’s water storage, an official said.

“The emergency plan must be submitted by the two authorities next week,” Adnan Zu’bi, ministry assistant secretary general and spokesperson, told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.

According to Zu’bi, the minister has requested the two authorities to develop a programme to better manage the scarce amounts of water stored at the dams for the next five months.

He has also directed them to highlight laws and regulations that need amending in order to maximise and protect water resources.

In the next two weeks, the ministry is also expected to complete an evaluation of its performance over the summer, which witnessed several water cuts and delays due to high water demand and reoccurring power outages.

“The evaluation seeks to highlight mistakes which occurred in the summer and resulted in several water crises in order to avoid them in the future,” Zu’bi noted.

The ministry announced last week measures to address the water shortage caused by the late rainy season. Such measures included reducing irrigation water to farmers in the Jordan Valley, securing additional water resources such as privately owned wells and reducing water loss.

The ministry has stressed that the public water supply will remain unchanged and that the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) will continue to provide water in accordance with the water distribution programme.

The Kingdom’s major dams currently hold 37 per cent of their total capacity, compared to 32 per cent during the same period last year, according to ministry figures.

Normally, 30 to 40 per cent of water stored in the Kingdom’s dams is held as a strategic reserve to ensure a continuous supply of water to farmers in the event of a dry year.