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Water, energy experts stress sovereignty in resource management

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Nov 18,2023 - Last updated at Nov 18,2023

Water and energy experts emphasise maintaining state sovereignty over essential resources such as water and energy (JT file photo)

AMMAN — The Aqaba water desalination project, powered by solar energy, and the revival of the national carrier project are crucial initiatives to replace the water-for-energy agreement that Jordan has decided to suspend.

On Thursday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ayman Safadi, announced the suspension of the signing of the “Energy for Water” agreement in response to the aggression on Gaza.

Jordan, the UAE and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2022, to continue feasibility studies for two interconnected projects: establishing a water desalination station at the Red Sea (Prosperity Blue) and establishing a clean electric power generation plant in Jordan (Prosperity Green). 

The MoU, signed on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) held in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh, was expected to lead to the official agreement in the upcoming COP28. However, due to the ongoing aggression on Gaza and the rejection of the Jordanian public regarding the agreement’s signing, Safadi announced the suspension of the agreement.

Water and energy experts emphasise maintaining state sovereignty over essential resources such as water and energy. Additionally, they suggest that Jordan should explore sustainable water resources and avoid reliance on external sources.

Accelerating work on the national carrier project and the Aqaba water desalination project, projected to supply the country with a sufficient water reserve using solar energy for desalination, offers a competitive edge for the Kingdom.

The Aqaba-Amman desalination and water transport project is a strategic project that aims to provide approximately 300 million cubic metres of desalinated water annually. Moreover, the project includes an intake plant to be based on the southern shore of Aqaba, desalination and pumping station in Aqaba, and a 450-kilometre pipeline, using clean and renewable energy. 

“The refusal to sign the deal is a political decision,” said Eyad Salameh, a water expert interviewed by The Jordan Times.

Salameh stressed the importance of sustainable water supply through the desalination of Aqaba’s waters, even if the initial cost is high, to preserve state sovereignty. He added that drinking water costs would remain within the budget of Jordanians.

The future lies in desalination projects, especially considering Jordan’s capacity to utilise solar energy for desalination. “Jordan is one of the best countries in the world for solar energy harvesting, with over 355 days of direct sunlight a year, particularly in Aqaba and the surrounding governates,” Salameh said.

Despite claims that Jordan can desalinate groundwater, Salameh cautioned that this would harm the ecosystem. Groundwater is the source of water springs in the south and depleting it would negatively impact the entire ecosystem.

Salameh highlighted Jordan’s need for hundreds of millions of water cubes annually, urging the government to find a sustainable source as groundwater supply is limited.

Ayoub Abu Dayyeh, an energy expert, told The Jordan Times that effective water management is crucial to overcoming water scarcity in Jordan. He emphasised two dimensions of water management: technical improvements and creating awareness.

“Repairing old and rusty pipelines and upgrading the infrastructure of the water network are essential. Water wastage amounts to approximately 40 per cent of water resources in Jordan, equivalent to hundreds of millions of cubic metres annually,” added Abu Dayyeh.

He urged the government to take the project seriously, estimating it could save up to 200 million cubic metres of water annually.

Abu Dayyeh stressed the importance of spreading awareness and amending legislation to prohibit water wastage. He added that desalination of saltwater through solar energy is vital for securing a sustainable water supply.


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