By Hana Namrouqa – Mar 17,2018
AMMAN — A man was sentenced to one year in prison and fined around JD20,000 for drilling an illegal well in Tafileh, a government official said on Saturday.

Following the court ruling, authorities on Saturday sealed the illegal well, the official at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said, indicating that huge amounts of water were being pumped out from the well for selling drinking water and crops’ irrigation.

“So much water was being pumped from the well, far exceeding the safe limits, which caused a drop in water levels of adjacent sources which supply Tafileh residents,” the official told The Jordan Times.

The illegal well was discovered last year in a private farm and the violation was referred to a court in Tafileh, which recently issued a ruling of sealing the well, fining the man JD19,200 and sentencing him to one year in prison, according to the official.

The ministry said that more than 800 cases of water theft have been referred to court since the ministry launched a national campaign in 2013 to end water theft and violations on water networks and resources.

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 have been saved annually since authorities launched the campaign.

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.

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

Under the new amendments to the Water Authority of Jordan Law, stiffer penalties against those who abuse any element of the water system were introduced.

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.