Authorities seize ‘sophisticated’ illegal drilling rig in Azraq
By Hana Namrouqa – Dec 23,2017

AMMAN — Authorities have arrested four people in Azraq, east of the country for allegedly drilling an illegal well and obstructing enforcement of the law, an official source said on Saturday.

In the process, authorities seized and confiscated a “sophisticated” drilling rig for digging deep wells, the official at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said.

A team from the ministry escorted by the Royal Badia Forces raided late last week a large plantation in Azraq after receiving information on an ongoing illegal drilling of a well in a private farm.

“The team inspected the farm and searched for the drilling site and the drilling rig, which was concealed upon news of an inspection team approaching. However, the inspectors discovered the place of the drilling rig and the well,” the source told The Jordan Times.

As the team was leaving the plantation with the confiscated drilling rig, relatives and owners of the farm locked the doors to prevent the ministry’s officials from leaving with the drilling rig, the source said, noting that the accompanying security force arrested those involved.

“The team sealed the well and seized and confiscated the drilling rig, while security authorities referred the suspects, two Jordanians and two Egyptians, for legal action for obstructing the work of the team,” the official said.

The ministry banned the drilling of wells in 1998 to limit random pumping of water, in order to preserve aquifers from depletion and salinity.

Water theft and violations on the water network and resources are being targeted by an ongoing campaign, launched by the ministry in 2013.

Recent ministry figures show that 32,000 violations on water networks and resources have been stopped since the campaign started. In addition, a total of 900 illegal wells have been sealed, 53 drilling rigs confiscated and 800 cases referred to courts.

In the process, a total of 25 million cubic metres of water have been retrieved per year, according to the ministry, which encouraged the public to contact the ministry’s unified water emergency number on 117116 to report any suspected violations against the water network and resources.
‘Unusual’ drop in Ramtha’s main aquifer water levels caused by ‘illegal well’
Authorities seal well, arrest 2 suspects

By Hana Namrouqa – Dec 16,2017

An illegal well being sealed in a private farm in Ramtha (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation)

AMMAN — Authorities on Saturday identified an illegal well in a private farm in Ramtha as the cause for the “unusual” drop in water levels of a main aquifer supplying the northern district’s residents.

The illegal well has been pumping thousands of cubic metres of water from the aquifer that provides drinking water to thousands of people via wells operated by the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ), an official at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said.

“Authorities noticed an unusual drop in the amount of water pumped from WAJ’s wells over the past period and also an unusual drop in water levels of the aquifer. After investigation, it was revealed that an illegal well was pumping huge amounts of water from the aquifer,” the official source, who preferred to remain unnamed, told The Jordan Times over the phone.

A technical team and security forces raided late last week the site of the illegal well, where authorities discovered that owner of the farm allegedly extracted drinking water and sold it to people, according to the official.

He added that the alleged violator also filled a large pool with the drinking water and was supplying adjacent farms with water for irrigation.

“The team sealed the well and the security forces arrested two persons at the farm but the farm’s owner fled the scene,” the official said.

The majority of cases of illegal drilling of wells have been recorded in Ramtha and Mafraq, which sit on some of the country’s main aquifers, according to the ministry, which added that the drilling of wells in Jordan was strictly banned to protect underground water levels from declining further.

The ministry banned the drilling of wells in 1998 to limit random pumping of water in order to preserve aquifers from depletion and salinity.

An ongoing campaign, launched by the ministry in the summer of 2013, seeks to end water theft and violations against the Kingdom’s water resources. The campaign has seen the retrieval of millions of cubic metres of stolen water and the prevention of the drilling of illegal wells, according to the ministry.

Stiffer penalties for infractions against the water system have also been introduced under the amended Water Authority of Jordan Law.

Under the new amendments, those involved in the digging of wells without obtaining a licence face a prison term of up to five years and fines of up to JD7,000. Violators of water and wastewater projects can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to JD5,000.

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