By Hana Namrouqa – Mar 16,2017

AMMAN — Authorities on Wednesday arrested two people for allegedly stealing about 10,000 cubic metres of water per day from a main carrier in south Amman, according to a government official.

The two alleged violators are now in custody, the official at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said, indicating that they will be fined JD3 million for stealing and wasting water if found guilty.

A team from the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ), the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna), the Public Security Department, the Gendarmerie and the Royal Badia Forces raided a farm in Um Al Amad, south of Amman, where they discovered a large underground reservoir for storing the diverted water.

“The violators installed two illegal pipelines on an 800-millimetre carrier that supplies south Amman with its drinking water. The illegal fixtures were diverting 380 cubic metres of water per hour to the farm, which stretches over scores of dunums,” the official source, who preferred to remain unnamed, told The Jordan Times.

The violators were filling tankers with the stolen water and selling it, the source said, adding that they also used the water for the irrigation of fruit trees and crops.

“Authorities are investigating them and they will be referred for further legal action,” the source noted.

In 2015, the government 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 Water Authority of Jordan Law, which 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 water and wastewater projects will be jailed for up to three years and fined up to JD5,000, according to the new amendments.

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

In 2013, the ministry launched a national campaign against water violations. Under the ongoing crackdown, authorities have dismantled over 27,000 illegal fixtures on water pipes and carriers.