By Hana Namrouqa – May 30,2018

AMMAN — Authorities on Tuesday foiled an attempt to dig an illegal well in Irbid Governorate and arrested a man in connection with the violation, according to an official source.

A team from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Public Security Department raided an olive farm in Kharja in Irbid, some 90 kilometres north of Amman, after verifying reports on an alleged drilling of a well in a private property, the official at the ministry said.

“The team had to search the property to locate the site of the drilling. The drilling rig was seized and confiscated, while the owners of the farm and of the illegal drilling rig were identified by security authorities,” the source told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.

The owner of the drilling rig, who was wanted by the authorities, was arrested, the official said.

The ministry referred the case to the criminal prosecutor for further legal action, according to the official, who added that authorities were tracking down the owner of the farm where the alleged violation took place.

The government 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.

The Most up-to-date ministry figures show that 1,022 illegal wells have been sealed across the country under the campaign. In addition, teams from the ministry and security forces have stopped more than 36,661 violations on water mains and networks over the past five years, while 54 drilling rigs were seized and confiscated.

In the process, a total of 120 million cubic metres of water has been retrieved since the campaign was launched, 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.