Theft, illegal use to blame for 70pct of Jordan’s water loss: Minister

Theft and illegal tapping are to blame for almost 70 percent of Jordan’s annual water loss, while ageing infrastructure is estimated to result in 30 percent of non-revenue water (NRW), Minister of Water and Irrigation Ma’tasem Sua’idan said Tuesday.


He told Petra in an interview that the water problem has been further exacerbated by climate change, an ongoing decline in freshwater supply, and the pressures resulting from the refugee crisis.


However, Sua’idan assured that the water ministry has an “ambitious” plan to cut down water loss and NRW by expediting new water and sanitation network projects, tapping unconventional resources and upgrading the water supply infrastructure, including pipes and mains.


The minister said that NRW is a “real” challenge that the ministry is addressing to bring technical losses down to acceptable global levels.


Highlighting measures taken to improve supply efficiency and upgrade the network, Sua’idan indicated that the ministry is pursuing a “natural flow” pumping strategy that is hoped to reduce energy, operation and maintenance costs while prolonging the network’s service life.


He also referred to the crackdown on water theft and illegal drilling, saying the Kingdom has made strides in this area and is moving to expand water resource protection programs.


With illegal water use significantly brought down to a near stop, the minister cited a “remarkable” improvement in water supply across the Kingdom, noting that water loss in Amman for instance is now at an internationally-acceptable level of 38 percent.


Moreover, according to the minister, Jordan was a regional forerunner in implementing a range of projects designed to cut down water losses and NRW in partnership with the private sector.


Sua’idan revealed that the ministry is carrying out several projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at a cost of $252 million during the 2020-2023 period to push water loss down to 20 percent, well below global thresholds.


He also said efforts are underway to build new mains, service lines and reservoirs, noting that drones are already in use by water authorities to ensure real time surveillance of networks.


The minister spoke about the introduction of smart meters which he said allow water users to learn firsthand about any supply problems, detect leakage and have accurate metering of consumption.


In turn, former water minister and current Chairman of the Middle East Water Forum Hazim al-Naser, said water loss in Jordan is still “big” at 43 percent, and blamed theft and illegal use as the primary reasons.


He noted that Jordan’s water share per capita is one of the lowest in the world, ranging from 100 to 130 cubic meters per annum, and for all uses.


In addition to the fact that the Kingdom is already classified as dry or semi-arid country, Al-Naser said that climate change had its toll on the country with precipitation declining by 15 to 20 percent over the past 70 years.


According to Al-Nasser, the problem has deepened further by population growth and successive waves of refugees from a number of countries, burdening already-strained resources and infrastructure.


Source: Jordan News Agency