AMMAN — Implementation of the first phase of the Jordan Red Sea Project (JRSP) will start early next year, Minister of Water and Irrigation Mousa Jamani said on Tuesday.

Projected to supply the Kingdom with around one billion cubic metres of water by 2022, the JRSP will be the key to addressing the Kingdom’s water scarcity, Jamani said yesterday.

“Water is a sovereign sector to Jordan… the country’s water security is dependent on the desalination of seawater in the future,” Jamani said during a scientific day organised by the Jordan Engineers Association’s water and environment committee to address the water and environment challenges related to the Dead Sea.

Under the first phase of the JRSP, water will be conveyed from the Red Sea through pipelines to a desalination facility that will be built in Aqaba. Water generated from the plant will be distributed to the port city and surrounding development projects.

The project entails extracting 2,150 million cubic metres (mcm) of water from the Red Sea every year; of which 930mcm will be desalinated and 1,220mcm will be channelled into the shrinking Dead Sea. In addition, 180 megawatts of electricity will be generated by projected hydropower stations.

In addition to providing the much needed water, the JRSP features an economic development programme that entails the establishment of gated communities, resorts, industries and other projects, according to the ministry.

During the one-day event, the minister attributed the country’s water crisis to several factors, including depletion due to over-pumping and sharing many rivers and aquifers with neighbouring countries.

Jamani noted that demand for water has surged in recent years as thousands of emigrants from Iraq and Syria came to Jordan, adding further pressure on the dwindling water resources.

He noted that the Disi Water Conveyance Project, which seeks to provide the capital with 110 mcm of water annually, will be a short-term solution to the water shortage.

“With the Disi project water and good management, we will be able to meet demands for water for the various sectors,” the minister said, noting that 68 per cent of the Disi project has been completed.

Being carried out on a build-operate-transfer basis and implemented by the Turkish company GAMA, the Disi project will convey water via a pipeline, which starts at the ancient Disi aquifer in southern Jordan and ends in Amman, passing through several water stations in Maan, Tafileh, Karak and Madaba.