by Hana Namrouqa | Jan 30, 2014

Water Ministry employees dismantle an illegal pipe hidden in a 20-metre tunnel built below the airport road (Photo courtesy of the Water Ministry)

AMMAN — Authorities on Wednesday discovered a 20-metre tunnel built below the airport road to hide an illegal pipe through which thousands of cubic metres of water were diverted to a private farm over the past year, according to an official source.

The owner of a farm located off the airport road had attached the pipe to a water main that carries water from Qastal in south Amman to a pumping station in Amman National Park that supplies most of the capital’s eastern suburbs, the source said.

The tunnel was supported with reinforced steel pillars to conceal the 300-metre pipe, the source said, adding that the farm owner was diverting over 2,000 cubic metres of fresh water a day to a pool on the farm and using it to irrigate trees as well as selling it to scores of tankers.

A team from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna), the Gendarmerie, the Royal Badia Forces and the Public Security Department went to the site, according to the source, who noted that the perpetrator was identified and referred to court.

“The ministry denounces this outrageous act which deprived over 20,000 people in east Amman from their proper and rightful share of water and also endangered the lives of motorists using the vital airport road,” the source told The Jordan Times.

The Water Authority of Jordan discovered the violation after performing pressure tests, the source said, highlighting that the authorities are also tracking down all those involved in digging the tunnel and extending the pipe.

Since the ministry launched a crackdown on water violations in August last year, and up until December, more than 7,091 illegal water pipes were dismantled, of which 75.5 per cent were in the capital, according to the ministry’s figures.

The ministry registered 1,919 violations on main water conveyors and 3,360 cases of changing water gauges in Amman alone between August and December last year.

The ministry said it is pressing ahead with its campaign to crack down on violators of the water network, calling on the public to cooperate with authorities and report violations.