By Abeer Numan

AMMAN – The water of the Disi basin is not polluted and is potable, Jordanian Geologists Association President Bahjat Al Adwan said on Tuesday, dismissing a report on a news website claiming otherwise.

Adwan, speaking to The Jordan Times over the phone, denied claims that the basin water is radioactively contaminated.

Adwan said the water does have radon, but the gas disappears as soon as the water is pumped from the underground and reaches the surface.

“As soon as the water is pumped out, a chemical reaction occurs between the air and the gas, causing it to fade away,” said Adwan, adding that water is safe for human consumption and that such reports are damaging.

Any deep-seated underground water has some sort of radioactivity, said Elias Salameh, a University of Jordan professor of hydrogeology and hydrochemistry.

Once the water is pumped out, it is checked for radioactivity, he said, noting that if any high concentration is found, the water is treated.

University of Jordan mineralogy Professor Hani Khouri confirmed that the water is uncontaminated and that radioactivity is a natural occurrence.

“In the case of any remaining radiation, it is easily removed through aeration and filtration processes,” Khouri said.

The Disi water conveyance project, slated for completion in 2013, entails the construction of a pipeline to convey water from the ancient Disi aquifer in southern Jordan to Amman.

The project is expected to provide the capital with 110 million cubic metres of water through the pipeline that will pass through several water stations in Maan, Tafileh, Karak and Madaba.

Ten per cent of the Disi basin is in the south of Jordan and 90 per cent in Saudi Arabia, which uses it for agricultural and drinking purposes.

More reassurance needed

The rumour that the Disi water is contaminated by radiation was dispelled by experts, yet it is incumbent on authorities to remove all traces of fear or anxiety about the quality of water planned to be conveyed from this southern aquifer to Amman and its environs.

Jordan is in dire need of water. The project that entails pumping some 110 million cubic metres of Disi water is slated for completion in 2013 at a big cost. It is a huge endeavour with big benefits, but the population needs to be reassured that this water is fit for consumption.

Such reassurance cannot come in words only, it has to be demonstrated scientifically.

The geologists association and other experts have indeed confirmed that whatever radiation may be present in the Disi water, in the form of radon, but this dissipates and is rendered harmless as soon as water mixes with air.

That sounds plausible, yet there is need to remove any lingering suspicions about the quality of this water by providing more detailed information.

One cannot deal with a major problem by creating another one, and since the right to health and access to potable water are basic rights, the public has to be certain that quenching its thirst will not be at the expense of its health.