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Water supply to be disrupted as alleged sabotage hits Disi project

Pumping of some 350,000 cubic metres of water daily to capital, governorates will be suspended between Sunday and Thursday

By Hana Namrouqa - Aug 22,2019 - Last updated at Aug 22,2019

In this undated photo, part of the Disi Water Conveyance Project is seen (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Pumping from the Disi Water Conveyance Project, one of the Kingdom’s strategic water resources, will be completely halted between Sunday and Thursday. Authorities are scrambling to fix one of the project’s main components that was allegedly sabotaged in the southeastern desert, the government announced on Thursday.

The reported act of sabotage will cause a major and direct disruption in water supply to hundreds of thousands of subscribers in Amman, Zarqa, Russaifeh, Ajloun, Irbid, Mafraq and Jerash, which receive the precious fossil water of the Disi aquifer, located some 350 kilometres southeast of Amman near the Jordanian-Saudi border.

Pumping of some 350,000 cubic metres of water daily to the capital and the rest of the governorates will be suspended and many neighbourhoods will miss their share of water under the distribution programme, according to a government official.

Fifty-five per cent of Amman’s water supply originates from the Disi project, the official said, urging people to conserve whatever amounts of water they already have to brace for a dry week ahead.

“One of the project’s main components in Al Jafer was damaged deliberately. Those responsible planned well ahead of time for this act of vandalism that required specialised knowledge and equipment,” the official at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation told The Jordan Times.

This is not the first time the Disi project has witnessed deliberate acts of sabotage, yet this is the largest and gravest violation that the project witnessed since its construction started in 2009, according to the official.

“This vandalism not only affected the operation of the project and the sustainable supply of water to Jordanians, it has jeopardised the safety of the project altogether as there was a chance that the project’s pipelines could burst, thus affecting the environment and the safety of people,” the official, who preferred to remain unnamed, warned.

The ministry and the project’s operating company are already working to fix the problem, the official said, while security forces are tracking down those responsible for this “grave sabotage”.

During the first six months of this year, the ministry recorded 61 violations and acts of sabotage over the Disi project’s facilities, despite the state-assigned patrols to protect the project’s components, said the official.

The latest violation on the Disi project happened early last month, when a group of unknown vandals sabotaged a facility that stores water from the project’s wells in Mudawarrah, Maan Governorate. The operational switchboards were stolen, while the rest of the facility was sabotaged and set on fire.

Carried out on a build-operate-transfer basis by the Turkish company GAMA, a 325-kilometre pipeline was constructed to convey water from the ancient Disi aquifer in southern Jordan to Amman. 

The project was launched in 2013 and the water now flows to Amman via a pipeline, which passes through several water stations on its way through Maan, Tafileh, Karak, Madaba and finally to Amman, from where it is then pumped further north via the national carrier. 

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