A billion-dollar pipeline project in Jordan: Major boost to water supply

Aug 22, 2013 12:00 AM

The Kingdom has long faced dwindling water supplies, prompting the leadership to introduce rationing more than three decades ago. A rising population, including the recent influx of refugees from Syria, is driving up consumption, while plans to boost agricultural output and step up industrialisation will put water supplies under even greater pressure.

The billion-dollar Disi Water Conveyance Project is expected eventually to provide more than half the country’s water for consumption purposes, while fulfilling most of Amman’s requirements by delivering 110 mm cu metres of fresh water annually to the capital. Local media reports say experimental pumping from the aquifer should begin later in 2013.

A total of 33 of the planned 55 deep-water wells situated along the pipeline have now been drilled, with the project expected to be complete by July 2013.

The pipeline, which is being built on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis by the Turkish company GAMA Enerji, covers a 350km distance from the Disi aquifer, which straddles the border of Mudawarra in southern Jordan and Saudi Arabia, to Amman. The 55 wells will be used to extract water from the aquifer, while nine others, containing piezometers, will measure static water pressure and levels.

The pipeline is expected to supply the population with fresh water under GAMA for the next 25 years, after which the project will be transferred to the government. The venture is then expected to continue supplying water for a further 25 years.

Ahmet Ligvani, project manager at GAMA, told OBG that most of the infrastructure for the Disi project is complete, and work is now focused on the pipeline’s electromechanical segments. Ligvani said the pipeline had also been connected to the national energy grid.

High-level technology in the form of fibre optic cables will play a key part in helping the pipeline avoid waste. The cables will alert maintenance teams to problems such as leaks or disruptions to supply, while pinpointing their location.

The launch of the pipeline should herald major changes for many Jordanians, improving their supply of water that is fresh, clean and sustainable. “This project should double the amount of water people have access to, which could significantly improve their wellbeing,” Ligvani said.

The public will also be hoping it spells the end of Jordan’s water-rationing programme, which was introduced in the 1980s as the Kingdom struggled to deal with dwindling resources. In some parts of the country, supplies of fresh water are made available to the population on a rotating basis just once a week.

Ligvani said the project would eventually provide about 60% of the total water needed for consumption purposes, while meeting 85% of Amman’s needs.

Jordan ranks as one of the world’s poorest countries in terms of water resources. According to World Bank data, the amount of renewable freshwater resources available annually stood at 110 cu metres per capita in 2011, down from 120 cu metres in 2007. Figures also show that freshwater consumption is on the increase, rising 6% in 2012.

Alongside the Disi Water project, Jordan stands to benefit from a number of other initiatives aimed at improving water security. The local media reported recently that the French government had agreed to a $60m loan to upgrade water infrastructure within Amman Municipality. Other reports suggest the US is set to provide $20m for infrastructure support in Jordan’s northern water networks. Desalination projects will also play a part in helping Jordan tackle its water shortages.

The combination of initiatives set to boost the water supply should help ease the pressure on the Kingdom’s limited resources, paving the way for the country to meet rising demand from its population, while also laying the foundations for further economic development. (OBG)

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