By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The Ministry of Water and Irrigation will start using aerial photos and digital maps to monitor illegal use of water and pinpoint the best locations for implementing water harvesting projects.

Under an agreement signed on Sunday between the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Royal Geographic Centre (RGC), management of the water sector and planning for water ventures will rely on up-to-date maps and aerial images.

“The water sources are spread over different parts of the country and are being pumped for different purposes, including drinking, irrigation and for industries. We need to make use of every drop of water and our cooperation with the RGC will help us achieve that,” Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar said yesterday.

Under the JD100,000 agreement, which ends in 2015, the centre will provide the ministry with the most recent spatial data, digital maps and aerial images to monitor the expansion of agricultural lands, limit random pumping of water and the digging of illegal wells, the minister added.

“The maps and photos will also help the ministry identify watersheds and catchment areas for dams and water harvesting projects, carry out hydrological research and studies, and update topographic maps and lands usage plans,” he noted yesterday.

Najjar underscored that the agreement will improve the management of water demand and water resources in Jordan, highlighting that the centre will also train the ministry’s technical cadres on analysing and updating digital maps.

Meanwhile, RGC Director Awni Khasawneh noted that modern technologies and applications such as remote sensing and digital maps play a major role in managing, improving and controlling water resources.

“The ministry can now accurately monitor the usage of surface and ground water resources, spot the best areas for building dams and identify streams and channels that supply them with water,” he said yesterday on the sidelines of the signing ceremony.

Khasawneh added that the maps and photos will also help the ministry evaluate the quantity of water in the different sources, in addition to determining how and where the water is pumped.