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‘Authorities dismantle over 408 illegal fixtures on water mains, pipes in January’

By Hana Namrouqa - Feb 15,2015 - Last updated at Feb 15,2015

AMMAN — Authorities dismantled 408 illegal fixtures on water mains and pipes across the Kingdom last month, a government official said on Sunday.

Under a nationwide campaign to end water theft and violations on water networks and resources, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, water companies and security authorities also sealed 26 illegal wells in January, and seized and confiscated 30 drilling rigs, the official told The Jordan Times on condition of anonymity.

“Water theft in Jordan constitutes 70 per cent of water loss. Under the campaign, the ministry seeks to save an estimated 35-50 million cubic metres of water that is stolen or wasted via illegal fixtures and the drilling of illegal wells,” the official said over the phone.

He noted that although the ministry did not calculate the amount of saved water, hundreds of thousands of stolen and wasted cubic metres of water have been saved since a “serious crackdown” on water theft and violations was initiated in August 2013.

“Since the launch of the campaign, authorities have dismantled 13,616 illegal pipes, sealed 1,155 illegal wells, and seized and confiscated 157 drilling rigs. The ministry also referred dozens of water theft cases to courts for legal action against perpetrators,” the official said.

The ministry banned the drilling of water wells in 1997 to limit random pumping of water and preserve aquifers from depletion and salinity. There are 1,318 wells across the country, more than 400 of which are unlicensed or illegal, according to official figures.

In the Jordan Valley alone, a total of 3,616 violations have been registered on water networks, utilities and lands affiliated with the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) since the campaign started.

The JVA, an affiliate of the Water Ministry, has registered 2,785 violations on the King Abdullah Canal, the official said, noting that the JVA annually spends JD600,000 on fencing the canal and installing warning signs around ponds and dams. 

The 110-kilometre King Abdullah Canal, which is supplied by the Yarmouk River, irrigates 40 per cent of the crops in the Jordan Valley and provides some 40 per cent of the capital’s water after being treated at the Zai Water Treatment Plant.

The amended Water Authority of Jordan Law stipulates stiffer penalties against those who abuse any element of the water system.

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, face a prison term of up to five years and fines up to JD7,000.

In addition, violators of water and wastewater projects are 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. 

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