(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The Ministry of Water and Irrigation on Monday highlighted the measures it has taken to protect the Kingdom's water sources, particularly the 110-kilometre King Abdullah Canal, which supplies the capital with a majority of its water needs.
In a report released yesterday, the ministry underscored that several joint water committees coordinate and work with neighbouring countries to preserve the country's water rights, guaranteed by international agreements.
The ministry said the government is monitoring the implementation of all agreements signed with neighbouring states "in order to protect the interests of Jordanians and the Kingdom's [water] sources".
Referring to the 1994 Wadi Araba Peace Treaty with Israel, the ministry said a joint water committee follows up on the implementation of its second appendix.
The main provisions of this appendix stipulate that Jordan and Israel must preserve the quality of water in shared valleys, according to the report, which noted that the peace treaty identifies the responsibility of each party in preventing pollution.
The report mentions the contamination of the King Abdullah Canal in March, when authorities suspended pumping from the waterway after detecting oil originating from the Israeli border.
The government contacted Israel and urged it to stop the pollution from lands under its jurisdiction, according to the report, which said the Israeli government responded by addressing the issue and compensating Jordan for the lost water.
News reports recently claimed that the ministry was lenient in dealing with the incident, noting that its measures were restricted to cleaning the canal following the contamination, and said it failed to identify the causes of the pollution from the Israeli side.
The report, however, notes that water authorities intensified monitoring following the incident, with technicians now conducting laboratory tests on the King Abdullah Canal four times a week and taking water samples from different parts of the waterway.
The ministry also announced that a proposed project, in cooperation with the Royal Scientific Society, is designed to monitor the entire canal using remote sensing technology.
The measures seek to prevent any pollutant in the canal from reaching the Zai Water Treatment Plant, which supplies a third of the capital's water, the report said, adding that a sub-committee comprising water and health officials convenes in case of water pollution and decides whether and when to suspend or resume pumping water.
The ministry also said that the Jordanian-Syrian Committee for the Yarmouk River basin convenes regularly in implementation of a 1987 agreement signed by the two countries on water shares from the Yarmouk River.
Following multiple meetings in Amman and Syria over the past year, the committee agreed to ban cultivation on lands upstream of the Wihdeh Dam, which slows the flow of the Yarmouk River and consequently reduces storage at the dam.
The Yarmouk River is a tributary of the Jordan River, originating from the southeastern slopes of Mount Hermon and forming a boundary between Syria and Jordan for nearly 40 kilometres before becoming the border between the Kingdom and Israel.
By Hana Namrouqa