By Hana Namrouqa – Mar 12,2018

AMMAN — Authorities have sealed five illegal wells in one day in the southern Maan Governorate, a government official said on Monday.

The emergency unified number 117116 at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation received information from an area resident about the suspected drilling of a well in Athruh region in Maan, some 220km south of Amman, an official at the ministry said.

“Based on the report and after verification, a technical team escorted with a security force raided the private farm, where the drilling was reported. The illegal well was sealed, but we were unable to detain anyone involved nor to seize the drilling rig and equipment,” the ministry’s official, who requested to remain unnamed, told The Jordan Times.

Those involved in the infringement fled the scene after receiving information that security forces were on their way to the farm, the official noted.

“It should only be a matter of time until authorities find the owner of the farm where the illegal well was being drilled and also those involved in the violation,” the official added.

After sealing the well, the team inspected adjacent farms within the same area and discovered an additional four illegal wells.

“The wells were already operational, pumping thousands of cubic metres of water daily to irrigate large tracts of lands and fill up large ponds,” the official noted.

As the team began the task of sealing the four illegal wells, area residents gathered and tried to prevent the ministry’s team from completing its job, the official said.

“The presence of a security force from the Public Security Department and the Gendarmerie provided the team with safety and allowed it to seal the wells as they kept the mob away,” the official underlined.

Earlier this week, the ministry announced the sealing of a well in Kafrain area in the Jordan Valley, indicating that an area resident provided the ministry with information on the illegal practice.

Two foreign nationals were detained in the process of sealing the well, while the owner of the farm where the alleged violation took place is being tracked down by the police.

Recent ministry figures show that 32,000 violations on water networks and resources have been stopped since the ministry started its national campaign against water violations in 2013. In addition, a total of 900 illegal wells have been sealed, 53 drilling rigs confiscated and 800 cases referred to courts.

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 the ministry’s ongoing campaign, which manages to retrieve a total of 25 million cubic metres of water per year, according to the ministry.