Ministry ‘certain’ Disi project will finish on schedule
by Hana Namrouqa | Jun 23, 2012

AMMAN — Water theft and vandalism of water sources are rising alarmingly and becoming the main obstacles to supplying the public with sufficient water, Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar said on Saturday.

“Violators now not only steal pumping equipment, but are also stealing water from main water networks and carrying out deliberate vandalism by setting pipes made from inflammable materials on fire,” Najjar said at a press conference.

A total of 28 violations on the Kingdom’s main water networks were recorded by mid-May this year, the minister noted, underscoring that water theft and vandalism of water networks leave scores of households without water for weeks and cause the ministry to incur huge financial losses.

The ministry registered 52 violations in 2010 and 50 last year; if the current trend continues, he added, the number is set to rise this year.

“Fixing violations to the networks and water resources this year has cost the ministry JD105,300. Pumping from 50 resources remains suspended because additional funds, around JD300,000, are required to fix them,” Najjar highlighted.

If violations continue, he warned, more water will be lost, while the ministry will lose between JD700,000 and JD800,000.

“The ministry cannot afford to continue spending funds on fixing vandalised resources because of its critical financial situation. The ministry is going to borrow JD50 million to pay for its obligations,” Najjar said.

The money will be borrowed from the Social Security Corporation and will go towards paying the ministry’s debts to the National Electric Power Company, the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company, contractors, suppliers and consultants, he explained.

The ministry is deploying more guards to protect its water resources, he said, but it cannot completely prevent violations unless the public cooperates.

“We call on people to report any infringements. By doing so, they will be protecting their own right to access sufficient amounts of water,” Najjar stressed.

Disi Project

Meanwhile, implementation of the Disi Water Conveyance Project is progressing, with 83 per cent of the project completed, the minister told reporters.

“We are certain that the Disi project will be completed on time mid-next year to provide the capital with around 100 million cubic metres of water annually,” Najjar noted.

The Disi project, which started in 2007, entails drilling 64 wells, 55 of which will be used for the generation of water, while nine will serve as piezometer wells to measure the elevation of water.

Being carried out on a build-operate-transfer basis and implemented by Turkish company GAMA, the Disi project seeks to provide the capital with 110 million cubic metres of water annually via pipeline, which starts at the ancient Disi aquifer in southern Jordan and ends in Amman, passing through several water stations in Maan, Tafileh, Karak and Madaba.

“Once completed, water supply in Amman and Zarqa will be improved. People will start receiving continuous water supply instead of once every week under the water distribution programme,” Najjar said.

Under the distribution programme, households in Jordan receive water once during a set period, usually a week to 10 days, on a rotating basis.

Scarce water resources in the country compelled the Kingdom to initiate the programme in the early 1980s to conserve limited resources and ensure a sustainable water supply for subscribers.

He noted that the ministry is replacing several dilapidated water networks in Amman in preparation for receiving water from the Disi project.

“In addition, a meeting will be held soon with government and security agencies to protect the Disi conveyor from violations because it is a costly and a precious project,” Najjar highlighted.

Water tankers

Also yesterday, Najjar called on the public to verify the source of water purchased from water tankers.

“To ensure the water you buy from tankers is clean and safe, ask the owner of the tanker to provide you with a receipt that shows the source of the water,” the minister said.

If the owner of the tanker provides customers with a receipt, it indicates that the water is from a Jordan Water Authority well or another source certified and approved by the authority.

“If people purchase water without being sure about the source, I urge them to boil the water before using it,” Najjar noted.

Since the start of the year, the Rangers have recorded 140 instances of tanker owners selling water that was unfit for human consumption, according to the minister.—-najjar