by Hana Namrouqa | Aug 25, 2013 | 22:43

AMMAN — Authorities have removed seven illegal waterpipes in the east Amman suburb of Marka over the past week under an ongoing campaign to end violations on the capital’s water network, a government official said on Sunday.

Teams from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna) disconnected the illegal connections, which were extended from main and tertiary pipes to pump water into tankers or for sale, according to the ministry’s spokesperson, Omar Salameh.

“The water supply in east and west Marka was witnessing delays; after investigation, our teams detected seven illegal pipes extended from main conveyors, which caused disruptions in the water distribution programme,” Salameh told The Jordan Times.

Official figures indicate that approximately 350,000 cubic metres of water are lost in the capital daily due to violations on water resources and networks, which prompted the ministry and security forces to launch a crackdown in June.

“In addition, the ministry’s teams and the Royal Badia Forces last week arrested two people who were digging a water well in Mafraq Governorate,” Salameh noted.

Authorities confiscated the drilling rig and arrested its owner as well as the owners of the land in Saideyeh in Mafraq, which is some 80km northeast of Amman and sits on one of the Kingdom’s main reservoirs that supplies the capital, Irbid, Jerash and Zarqa with water from the Sumaya artesian wells.

Authorities also seized and confiscated a drilling rig that was heading to Ramtha to dig an illegal well, Salameh said, noting that the Water Authority of Jordan currently has 134 confiscated rigs.

Digging illegal wells depletes underground water and causes the deterioration of its quality, according to officials at the ministry, who said the drilling of wells was banned in 1997 to limit random pumping of water and preserve aquifers from depletion and salinity.

The ministry has warned people against sabotaging water networks and resources and said it will be firm in combating recurring violations on underground water resources.

Under the campaign’s first phase, the ministry said it would close down all illegal wells in Jiza in south Amman, Deir Alla in the Jordan Valley, Azraq in the eastern region, Ramtha in the north, and Maan in the south.

Over 55 violations on the Kingdom’s main water networks were recorded last year, according to ministry figures, which also indicated that 50 violations were registered in 2011 and 52 in 2010.

Under Article 30 of the Water Authority of Jordan Law, violators are fined up to JD5,000 and jailed for two years, while Article 456 of the Penal Code stipulates that violators of water networks face three- to six-month prison terms and fines ranging between JD100 and JD1,000.–in-marka