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Study draws attention to groundwater depletion

By JT - Nov 15,2019 - Last updated at Nov 15,2019

AMMAN — In the framework of the celebration of 60 years of Jordanian-German Development Cooperation, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, together with the German Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), have launched a study on groundwater resources in Jordan.

Minister of Water and Irrigation Raed Abul Saud opened the conference together with Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the German Embassy in Jordan Ulla Brunkhorst at the Royal Cultural Centre, according to a joint statement.

Abul Saud praised the efforts exerted by the water sector in cooperation with the German institutions to overcome major challenges facing the sector. 

The water supply in Jordan is facing severe challenges considering climate change, population growth and expanding irrigation for agriculture, according to the statement.

The newly developed groundwater model is a very important tool to estimate the impact of water management measures or changing water use patterns on the future developments of groundwater, the statement said. 

Abul Saud noted that the ministry is moving towards realising the strategy of integrated water resource management, attracting more investments to develop the sector, as well as implementing a number of projects to achieve water security, according to the statement. 

He indicated that the German government and institutions have been working with the water sector since 1959 in a framework of “constructive cooperation”, providing technical assistance for many programmes in the sector. 

Germany is a “key partner” in providing support to the water sector and other sectors, the statement said.

For her part, Brunkhorst highlighted that Germany has established itself as the second-largest bilateral donor to Jordan with a “record volume” of well over 800 million euros in support for this year alone. 

She recalled that the BGR started its cooperation with Jordan in 1959.

“The BGR has made a significant contribution towards improving the situation of people living in Jordan, especially in regard to drinking water supplies, through introducing water protection zones,” Brunkhorst was quoted in the statement as saying.

The water sector has been a “focal area” of German development cooperation, and Germany will continue to support Jordan in dealing with the wide range of challenges it faces, the statement said.

The experts from the ministry and the BGR presented the results of the groundwater study. The assessment revealed that about one quarter of all springs have dried up and the total spring discharge has decreased by almost 50 per cent from 1970 to 2010, according to the statement. 

Likewise, groundwater level development shows a negative trend, noted the statement. 

The water levels in Jordan’s main aquifer have decreased by between 50 and 100 metres over the last two decades, dropping eight metres per year, according to the statement. 

Simulations of the recently developed nationwide groundwater flow model show that the groundwater levels will continue to decrease if water abstraction is not reduced significantly. The assessment of the current situation, as well as the groundwater model, are important tools that support decision makers in responding to the challenges of water scarcity in Jordan, the statement said.

A further important result of the technical cooperation between the ministry and the BGR is the update of the groundwater vulnerability map for central and northern Jordan which resulted in the update of the Groundwater Protection Guideline published in 2006. 

Groundwater vulnerability should be considered in land-use planning to protect the precious water sources from contamination, the statement said.

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