by Hana Namrouqa | Oct 08, 2012

AMMAN — Ten of the Kingdom’s 12 aquifers are overexploited, which is projected to further limit water supply, deteriorate groundwater quality and harm the country’s fragile ecosystems, a senior government official said on Monday.

Decreasing water amounts due to changing climate patterns, coupled with a growing population and an expanding economy are causing an imbalance between the water demand and supply formula in Jordan, Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar said at the opening of a regional workshop on groundwater governance.

“Our demand for water outstrips supply by 200 per cent… In fact, the demand for water is expected to double by 2030… 53 per cent of our water supply depends on groundwater resources,” Najjar added.

Highlighting the need to come up with sustainable solutions to address groundwater depletion, he noted that groundwater abstraction is more difficult to control than surface water resources because it can be extracted from private properties.

“Furthermore, it is not always apparent when an aquifer is overexploited because the decreasing water table is in many cases not immediately discernible,” Najjar said, noting that this makes it difficult to link groundwater depletion to deterioration in ecosystems.

UNESCO’s Fourth World Water Development Report, released earlier this year, projected that Jordan’s population may exceed 7.8 million by 2022, raising water demand to 1,673 million cubic metres (mcm), and pushing the annual water deficit from the current 457mcm to 659mcm within a decade.

During the three-day workshop, experts and policy makers from 15 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region will discuss how institutions can be better equipped to deal with risks and uncertainties caused by climate change, population growth, urban-rural tensions and groundwater pollution.

Organised by UNESCO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the event seeks to build awareness on the need to institutionalise sound management of groundwater resources in order to prevent and reverse the global water crisis, according to organisers.

UNESCO Representative in Jordan Anna Paolini noted that the Near East region is suffering from scarce water resources, which are facing further restraints due to increasing demand, growing population, social and economic changes and decreasing rainfall.

“In such a scenario, formulating good water governance strategies is key for future sustainable development,” Paolini said.

The regional workshop on groundwater governance is part of the “Groundwater Governance: a Global Framework for Country Action” project.

The final outcome of the project will be a global “Framework of Action,” which consists of a set of effective governance tools that will foster the evaluation of groundwater as key natural resource, according to UNESCO.–to-address-groundwater-depletion