By Hana Namrouqa – Oct 17,2018

AMMAN — Authorities on Tuesday uncovered major water violations in Lubban, south Amman, in which more than 36,000 cubic metres of freshwater were being diverted monthly for the irrigation of over 100 dunums, according to a government official.

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna) and security forces from the Public Security Department, the Gendarmerie and the Royal Badia Forces investigated the incident upon receiving information that municipal water was being illegally diverted onto private properties, an official at the ministry said.

In a farm in Lubban, located 30 kilometres south of Amman in the Al Jizah District, authorities uncovered the illegal pipelines, which were diverting fresh water from a main carrier to a 100-dunnum plantation, the official said, noting that the stolen water was being channelled into huge ponds that could hold thousands of cubic metres.

“More than 1,200 cubic metres of fresh water were being diverted every day. Water amounts that are the rightful shares of people of the area,” the official, who requested anonymity, told The Jordan Times.

Authorities removed the pipelines and said they were in the process of estimating the cost of the stolen water, according to the official, who noted that an investigation is under way.

“The owner of the farm and those involved in the violation were identified,” the official told The Jordan Times.

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

Those who abuse water carriers and mains, wastewater, pumping, purification or desalination stations, cause the pollution of water resources, pipes or stations used for drinking water, dig or are involved in the digging of wells without obtaining a licence face a prison sentence of up to five years and fines of up to JD7,000.

In addition, violators of water and wastewater projects can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to JD5,000 under the amendments.

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

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

Recent ministry figures show that over 1,063 wells have been sealed, and more than 65 drilling rigs have been seized and confiscated. In addition, more than 38,213 violations have been stopped. Over 286 water-related cases are currently in court, according to the ministry.

In the process of the campaign, 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.