Water Resources of Jordan • new book

One of the major challenges facing Jordan is its severe shortage of water resources: water scarcity is the norm. The consequences of water scarcity in Jordan are made more harsh by several developments related to strategy, policy and society, the most significant being the rapid rise in population. The population of Jordan has increased tenfold since the 1950s. In addition to the high rate of population growth, Jordan has seen a series of massive refugee influxes since 1948, most importantly the influx of Palestinian refugees over the past decades and currently over a million Syrian refugees. A new book, «Water Resources of Jordan», sheds light on the problems Jordan faces and aims to bring suggestions for possible solutions. 

2018.06.22 Jordan

Over the last few decades Jordan’s water resources have also been continuously exposed to rapid degradation, not only because of active pollution introduced by liquid or solid waste, but increasingly also by passive degradation as a result of salinization due to over-pumping and resulting depletion of the groundwater resources. Widely applied remedial measures during the last decade have so far alleviated water catastrophes and the inability of the country to provide water of sufficient quantity and quality for human life and subsistence.

«Water Resources of Jordan: Political, Social and Economic Implications of Scarce Water Resources» aims to provide an overview of the water situation in Jordan following the socioeconomic developments over the last few decades. The first chapters describe the availability of water resources. The section on water quality provides information about the original water qualities in the different regions of the country and how they have been affected by pollution such as cesspools, treated and untreated waste water, industrial waste water, solid wastes, irrigation return flows, salt water intrusions, and the upconing of salt water bodies.

Following this, the loss of resources, declines or losses of water production facilities, and water quality degradation as a result of population growth are discussed. Future projects to develop additional resources to substitute degraded resources and increase water availability for the use of coming generations are put forward. The book also touches on social costs: the cost incurred by Jordanian society as a result of water pollution and depletion. It also discusses the managerial, technological, and pricing policies the country is envisaging to achieve a sustainable water resources base taking into consideration intergeneration equities in terms of quality degradation and overexploitation limiting factors.

«Water Resources of Jordan» discusses the need for a regional approach to solving the problem of water scarcity, not only in Jordan but also in other countries in the region. The book ends with practical recommendations on how to deal with Jordan’s water problems. Professor Elias Salameh, Dr Marwan Al-Raggad and Dr Ghaida Abdallat are well-known experts of Jordanian water resources.

«Water Resources of Jordan» provides many nice colourful maps and diagrams that are very resourceful. On some occassions it could have benefitted from the great maps of UNESCWA’s Water Inventory that also show directions of groundwater flow for parts of the country, for example the Saq-Ram aquifer that underlies a major part of Jordan. Indeed, one would have hoped that the book would also provide an extensive and comprehensive overview of all literature related to Jordan’s water resources, but this is not the case. The book contains many maps with isohypses, for different regions and different aquifers.

Chapter 3, Patterns of Water Use, comprises six pages dealing with the water consumption by various sectors, while also for other chapters and paragraphs sometimes a bit more could have been said or explained about what is now briely touched upon. There is much more information available, also in accessible scientific literature, from projects by donors, PhD theses et cetera.

Chapter 4, on Water Quality, has 18 pages, while chapter 5, on Waste Water Treatment, comprises 24 pages. Chapter 6, Water Pollution Management and Cost, has 9 pages, while chapter 7, Water Politics, has 20 pages with only a few of the references going into water politics. The book ends with 12 pages of Conclusions and Recommendations.

«Water Resources of Jordan» provides an interesting introductory overview, with about 1/3 of the book focussing on hydrology (Water Resources, chapter 2, 54 pages) and about 1/3 focussing on water quality, waste water and water pollution. Altogether it will therefore appeal to several groups of water enthousiasts. It will leave them with a taste for more information about this wonderful country and its water resources.

Order the book at your local bookstore.


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