By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The government is currently developing the Kingdom’s first industrial knowledge centre, a platform for industrialists to share experiences in water conservation and environment protection, according to a senior official.

Being developed in cooperation with the USAID-funded Water Reuse and Environmental Conservation Project, the centre seeks to raise industries’ awareness on how to conserve the country’s natural resources and prevent environment pollution, Minister of Environment Yaseen Khayyat said on Wednesday.

The centre is one of several measures that the government is undertaking, in partnership with international agencies, to promote water conservation and environment protection, he noted at a workshop, titled “Partnerships in Water Reuse: The Way Forward”, organised by the USAID-funded project and the Jordan Desalination and Reuse Association.

“As one way to recognise and promote these policies, we are developing a set of environmental awards… The awards will recognise industrial facilities and other entities which implement practices and systems that have a positive impact on the environment,” Khayyat said.

The first round of the awards will focus on water conservation and reuse, the minister said, highlighting that the agricultural and industrial sectors are under pressure to only use recycled water.

“At present, 50 per cent of irrigable land in Jordan is irrigated with reused water… Industrial reuse is also increasing; for example, in Aqaba, 30 per cent industrial water demand is met with reused water,” the minister added.

Khayyat underscored that the government seeks to reuse all wastewater generated from domestic and industrial activities in order “to save every possible drop of clean water for drinking”.

Minister of Water and Irrigation Musa Jamaani said the ministry recycles 111 million cubic metres of wastewater annually, which is channelled to the Jordan Valley for irrigation purposes.

“We ran out of options in Jordan and are forced to deal with and benefit from all types of water. In light of depleting water resources, we are compelled to look for alternative irrigation sources and save potable water for drinking purposes,” he said, but underscored that despite the critical water situation, the quality of drinking and irrigation water is closely monitored and is in line with stringent international standards.

During the day-long workshop, participants from the industrial and agricultural sectors who manage water reuse daily, underscored that technical expertise is needed to enhance water reuse performance, public perceptions of water reuse and research and innovation.

The Water Reuse and Environmental Conservation Project is a five-year initiative which addresses the full cycle of environmental conservation and water reuse issues by assisting capacity building for the Ministry of Environment, pollution prevention for industries, and water reuse for community livelihood enhancement, according to a USAID statement.