AMMAN — With the arrival of thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan and the return of expatriates in summer, the Kingdom’s water supply is expected to face severe strain in the coming months, a government official said on Saturday.
As the Ministry of Water and Irrigation drafts out its summer water budget, officials are struggling to secure water from various sources in order to maintain a regular water distribution programme and supply sufficient water for homes, agriculture and industry, the ministry's spokesperson and assistant secretary general, Adnan Zu'bi ,said.
"Water needs for drinking purposes are expected to reach 180 million cubic metres (mcm) this summer, when the water deficit will range between 10mcm and 13mcm," Zu’bi told The Jordan Times.
The water deficit will be met by improving and rehabilitating water resources, exploring new sources, purchasing water from private wells, establishing new water pipelines to improve the water supply process and linking water pumps to the electricity grid, he explained.
"The water distribution programme will not be changed this summer, despite the expected deficit, because the water budget took into consideration every governorate's water needs and the expected rise in demand, whether due to the return of expatriates or the arrival of Syrian refugees," the official said.
Under the water distribution programme, households in Jordan receive water once during a set period, usually a week to 10 days, on a rotating basis.
Scarce water resources in the country compelled the Kingdom to initiate the programme in the early 1980s to conserve limited resources and ensure a sustainable water supply for subscribers.
Heavy rains during this year’s wet season boosted the ministry's water reserves, Zu'bi said.
"The winter brought very good amounts of rain, which not only increased water storage in the dams but also revived drying springs and boosted underground water levels," he noted.
The country's 10 major dams currently hold 114mcm or 35 per cent of their total capacity of 327mcm, Zu'bi said.
"Forty per cent of the water stored at the dams is kept as a strategic reserve to ensure a continuous supply of water to farmers in the event of a dry year," he noted.
Dams are crucial for the Kingdom to secure its water needs, according to experts. Jordan is among the four most water poor countries in the world, with an annual water deficit of approximately 500mcm.
Approximately 91 per cent of the country’s total area of 97,000 square kilometres is arid, with an annual rainfall average of 50-200 millimetres, while 2.9 per cent of the country’s land is semi-arid, with an annual rainfall average of 400-580 millimetres.