By Hana Namrouqa – Jun 26,2016

AMMAN — Authorities have dismantled around 23,000 illegal fixtures on water mains and resources since a national campaign to end water violations was launched in 2013, an official said on Sunday.

“More than 22,976 violations have been dealt with since the campaign began three years ago,” according to a Water Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Working with security authorities, the ministry has also sealed 758 illegal wells, he added.

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

International studies indicate that water levels at several aquifers have been dropping at a rate of one metre per year, according to the ministry, which noted that more than 50 million cubic metres of underground water are being extracted in indiscriminate pumping.

In the Jordan Valley, authorities also discovered 1,313 violations on state-owned land and 7,809 infringements on the King Abdullah Canal, which is supplied by the Yarmouk River to irrigate 40 per cent of the Jordan Valley’s crops.

The canal also provides some 40 per cent of the capital’s supply after it is treated at the Zai Water Treatment Plant.

Water theft in Jordan is blamed for 70 per cent of water loss, according to the ministry, which indicated that around 110 million cubic metres of water have been saved since authorities launched the campaign.

The official noted that the ministry and the water companies are also pressing ahead with the campaign to curb waste of water, noting that the increasing demand in light of rising temperatures necessitates preserving water.

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 those who dig or are involved in the digging of wells without obtaining a licence face a prison sentence of up to five years and fines of 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 amendments.

All penalties stipulated under the law are doubled in the case of repeat offences.