by Hana Namrouqa | Jun 03, 2014

AMMAN — Authorities sealed 34 illegal wells in May under an ongoing campaign to end all violations on water networks and resources, according to an official at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

Also during last month, they dismantled more than 500 illegal pipes installed on water mains to divert water for irrigating private farms or to sell it to the public via tankers, the official said.

“The Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) and the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna) are inspecting all water carriers from the Heidan Valley in Madaba Governorate to Amman, to address any violations,” noted the official, who preferred to remain unnamed.

The Heidan Valley, located 33 kilometres south of the capital, is home to streams and wells that supply Amman with part of its drinking water. Nine Heidan wells generate 1,450 cubic metres per hour daily, of which 600 cubic metres are channelled to the capital, according to official figures.

Since the launch of a nationwide campaign to remove violations on the water network in August last year, 265 illegal wells have been sealed, over 140 drilling rigs were seized and confiscated and more than 9,913 illegal water pipes were removed, according to the Water Ministry official.

Drilling wells in any part of the country is prohibited and the government no longer tolerates the practice, the source said, highlighting that the “serious crackdown” on water violations will continue across the country, especially with the onset of the dry season.

The government recently announced that it was committed to putting an end to all water violations, describing water theft as a form of corruption. To this end, the government drafted new amendments to the WAJ Law, which went into effect June 1 after being published in the Official Gazette.

The amended law stipulates stiffer penalties against those who abuse any element of the water system. Those who abuse water carriers and mains, wastewater, pumping, purification or desalination stations, or cause the pollution of water resources, pipes or stations used for drinking water, and dig or are involved in the digging of wells without obtaining a licence will be jailed for up to five years and fined up to JD7,000.

In addition, violators of WAJ water and wastewater projects will be jailed for up to three years and fined up to JD5,000, according to the new amendments.

Moreover, all penalties stipulated under the new law will be doubled in the case of repeat offenders.–dismantled-in-may