Thirsty business: Water conservation remains a top national priority

Treatment. “However things should pick up, as GCC donors for example are interested in the wastewater treatment,” he told OBG. Indeed, foreign donors are already playing an important role. For example the US-backed Millennium Challenge Corporation is providing $93m of funding the expansion of the As Samra plant. The US Agency for International Development is also currently replacing a plant in Mafraq at a cost of $23.3m; water quality from the previous plant was too low for use in farming. The facility, which will have a capacity of 6550 cu metres of water a day, is due to come into service this year.

AGRICULTURAL USE: The largest consumer of treated wastewater is agriculture. In addition to reducing pressure on the kingdom’s aquifers, the use of the resource offers a number of other advantages to the sector. These include reducing the need for fertiliser use by farmers, as treated water already contains large amounts of mineral nutrients. According to studies by the Jordan Valley Authority and the German Agency for International Cooperation, a 3.5-ha farm can save an average of JD1000-3000 ($1407-4220) annually in reduced fertiliser costs through the use of treated wastewater. Processed effluent is also often cheaper than using alternative water resources; the German Development Bank reports that the financial cost of the resource in Jordan is between €0.15 and €0.20 per cu metre, compared to up to €1.20 per cu metre for alternative forms of supply.

IMPROVING STANDARDS: To ensure that the water is properly treated and the produce it is used on is safe, the authorities conduct annual monitoring of fruit and vegetables irrigated by treated wastewater, involving the testing of samples from more than 400 items collected from both farms in the Jordan Valley and from markets. The most recent tests found that crops irrigated by treated wastewater from 2010-12 fully met international standards and were safe for humans to eat. The results pointed to an improvement in the quality of water from the country’s treatment facilities. The treatment of wastewater forms a major part of Jordan’s water conservation strategy; around one-third of domestically consumed water is currently processed at treatment plants, with plans to more than double volumes by 2020. Much of the treated water is used for agricultural irrigation, providing the sector with a number of benefits.

WASTEWATER TREATMENT: Around 114m cu metres of wastewater are treated annually in the kingdom. The authorities aim to more than double this to 240m cu metres by 2020, in part through constructing new treatment plants and upgrading existing facilities. Plans to expand the sewerage system, to which around 65% of households are currently connected, will also increase the quantities of effluent available for treatment. The largest treatment plant in Jordan is the Khirbet As Samra facility, completed in 2008. The plan processes effluent from parts of Amman and Zarqa and feeds the King Talal reservoir, which in turn provides water for irrigation in the Jordan Valley. The facility has a treatment capacity of an average of 270,000 cu metres a day, to be raised to 365,000 cu metres by 2016 under a $184m expansion project currently under way. The expansion is being carried out under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract awarded to Degremont (a unit of Suez Environnement) and the US firm Morganti, who are also part of the consortium awarded the original BOT contract for the plant. In addition to large-scale treatment facilities, the kingdom also plans to build smaller de-centralised plants in remote communities to treat sewage and provided water for irrigation purposes. A pilot plant being built in Salt under the initiative is due to be completed by mid-2014, and a JD100m ($140.65m) sewer network is planned to be built in 2013 to connect areas in east Amman. The economic slowdown in Jordan has put something of a brake on the development of the segment in recent years. “Everything slowed down in 2011 and 2012 with almost no tenders,” said Rami Irshaidat, the executive manager for trading and contracting at Irshaidat Water

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The Report: Jordan 2013

Agriculture & Water chapter from The Report: Jordan 2013

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