By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – With gardens and toilets accounting for 45 per cent of domestic water consumption, conservationists on Saturday urged the public to cultivate native plants to reduce water use.

Water supply is very limited in Jordan, which is categorised as one of the water-poorest nations in the world; therefore, saving every drop matters, Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) President Munqeth Mehyar said.

“Jordan’s climate is semi-arid and best supports low-water consumption plants. But many people tend to grow plant varieties from outside the region in their gardens that require intensive irrigation, especially in summer,” he told The Jordan Times.

A FoEME report estimates that around 30 million cubic metres per year can be saved if households in Jordan switch to drought-tolerant plants and use grey water for irrigation.

Mehyar called for banning the use of fresh water for irrigating gardens, underscoring the importance of raising public awareness about drought-tolerant plants to reduce water demand.

“A law that penalises irrigation with potable water must be enforced… Paying for water doesn’t mean that one can abuse it,” he said.

FoEME proposed several tips on how to conserve water under its Garden Reform Campaign, which aims at reducing water use in home and public gardens.

“Some examples of lovely garden plants native to Jordan include Ashphodel and Polyanthus Narcissus… Such types of plants are adapted to Jordan’s dry climate and are the best choice because they use less water and improve soil quality,” according to a FoEME brochure.

FoEME advised people wishing to cultivate non-native plants to look for those that are originally from climates similar to Jordan and need no more than 25-50 cubic metres of water per year.

Such plants include Yucca, Agave, Cholla, Opuntiaa, Claret Cup and Cacti, which all consume less than 24 cubic metres of water annually.

Under the campaign, the public is also urged to employ simple rainwater harvesting techniques to reduce domestic demand for supplementary water, such as placing cisterns on rooftops or driveways to store water and constructing sloping sidewalks and patios leading towards a cultivated area to direct rainwater to plants.

Ministry of Water and Irrigation Spokesperson and Assistant Secretary General Adnan Zu’bi said efficient irrigation of gardens helps reduce water demand.

“Using a hose to irrigate gardens consumes around 15 litres per minute, the majority of which is wasted in evaporation. People can instead use sprinklers and water their plants in the morning or at night to save 60 per cent of used water,” he told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The FoEME campaign, carried out under the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, also urges people to design water-efficient garden landscapes.

Mehyar noted that applying water saving measures can reduce the strain on water resources, such as the Jordan River, which would experience less exploitation.