By Hana Namrouqa – Feb 10,2016

AMMAN — Authorities have unveiled four major violations on water resources in west Amman’s Wadi Al Seer, where suspects dug illegal wells inside their houses and an auto repair shop.

The suspects sold the stolen water to the public, an official at the Water Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday, noting that the water is unfit for human consumption.

“The four violations were discovered on Tuesday in Wadi Al Seer. The ministry and a security convoy of eight armoured vehicles raided the locations after obtaining search warrants from west Amman’s prosecutor general,” the official told The Jordan Times.

The first violation entailed drilling a well in a room inside the house, constructing a cement trench that channels 200 cubic metres of water per hour into a sealed pool adjacent to the house and constructing a pipeline to fill the stolen water into tankers.

Authorities sealed the well and referred the case’s legal documents to the prosecutor to arrest the violator.

In another house in Wadi Al Seer, authorities also sealed two wells, the official said, noting that one of the wells was drilled inside the house while the other was in the garden.

“The violator extracted water using submersible pumps and filled tankers via 200-metre-long pipelines,” the official said, highlighting that the wells have also been sealed.

Meanwhile, at an adjacent location, authorities also discovered an illegal well at a car oil change station.

The well was drilled in the trench used for changing cars’ oil, according to the official, who noted that after inspection, authorities found that the stolen water was being pumped via pipelines extended beneath the facility.

“The suspect was arrested on Wednesday morning and is being interrogated,” the official said.

Under the fourth violation, also in Wadi Al Seer, the violator directed water from a spring via a sealed water canal, which channelled the water into a covered pool inside his house, the official said.

Also on Tuesday morning, the ministry and security authorities confiscated a drilling rig in Ramtha, some 90km north of Amman, and sealed the well.

“The equipment was confiscated, while investigation is under way to locate the owner of the land and those involved in the illegal action,” the official said.

The ministry banned the drilling of wells in 1997 to limit random pumping of water and preserve aquifers from depletion and salinity.

Water theft in Jordan is blamed for 70 per cent of water loss, according to the ministry, which seeks to save an estimated 35-50 million cubic metres of water stolen or wasted via illegal fixtures and the drilling of illegal wells.

The amended Water Authority of Jordan 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, face a prison sentence of up to five years and fines up to JD7,000.

In addition, violators of water and wastewater projects are jailed for up to three years and fined up to JD5,000, under the law.

All penalties are doubled in the case of repeat offences.
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