Jordan plans to decentralise sanitation, water reuse

| 23/10/2012 | 0 Comments

Project implementation by the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation and Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research (UFZ).

Following an initiative proposed by Jordan’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation are currently developing an extensive programme designed to improve water management in Jordan. The proposed decentralisation of sanitation and reuse of water is designed to significantly alleviate the issues of water scarcity and groundwater protection that Jordan faces today.

The Project Implementation Office established for this purpose at the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation was , officially inaugurated by Annette Schavan, Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research together with Jordan’s Minister of Water and Irrigation.

With funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the ‘Integrated Water Resource Management’ sponsorship programme (02WM1212), the UFZ and the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) have set up a Project Office at the MWI designed to co-ordinate the development of an implementation strategy on decentralised wastewater treatment scenarios in rural and peri-urban areas over the next three years.

Annette Schavan, Federal Minister of Education and Research, Germany

Project Implementation Office established at the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation in October 2012: (from left to right) German Ambassador to Jordan Ralph Tarraf, Minister President Saxony-Anhalt Dr. Reiner Haseloff, German Federal Minister Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Water and Irrigation Eng. Maher Abu Al-Samin, Secretary General of the Ministery of Water and Irrigation Basem Telfah, Secretary General of the Water Authority of Jordan Eng. Fayez Bataineh, Director of Awareness and Media of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation Omar Salameh. Photo: Manfred von Afferden/UFZ

Many of Jordan’s households are not connected to mains sewerage systems, and the indirect disposal of untreated wastewater through cesspools poses considerable risks to the country’s scarce groundwater resources. This could be avoided by reclaiming and reusing wastewater locally, thus significantly contributing to an improved water balance in one of the most arid countries in the world. Jordan proposes a share of recycled water of up to 15% of the overall water quantity available, to be used primarily for agricultural purposes.

This joint Jordanian-German initiative aims to integrate the relevant institutions and technologies into the current political strategy of Jordan while also giving consideration to the socio-economic environment, and to study the conditions required for successful implementation. In the process, new markets will be opened up, not least in other countries where water is scarce since the procedures and methods developed will be transferable so that other regions may apply them efficiently as well.

MWI and UFZ pursue their goal by using the so-called participatory approach, which is new in many ways: They are building a visible bridge between research, development, water resource policy and implementation. A National Implementation Committee (NICE) is to develop the implementation strategy, where the interests of all major stakeholders of Jordan will be represented. Established experts from the GWP Regional Sections and corresponding networks will be involved to help create the fundamental conditions required for decentralised wastewater treatment systems. Special workshops and consultations (capacity development) are currently being conceived in line with requirements.

Rather than serving as a substitute for centralised disposal plants, decentralised wastewater structures would be put into place where they can achieve greater economies as opposed to centralised solutions. The most suitable locations will be identified by way of a GIS-based analysis developed at the UFZ and designed to evaluate and visualise economic, ecological, demographic and physical factors for decision-making. This will allow for earmarking such locations that pose a particularly high risk to groundwater resources.

The NICE project evolved as a result of the groundwork undertaken in the lower Jordan River watershed by the IWRM project, SMART (Sustainable Management of Available Water Resources with Innovative Technologies), which is also sponsored by the BMBF. Research institutions, regulatory authorities, universities and water utilities from Germany, Jordan and neighboring countries  are all involved in the project consortium. A particular highlight in Jordan is the Research, Demonstration and Training Facility in Fuheis (near Amman) where decentralised wastewater treatment technologies and options for agricultural reuse have been tested locally during normal operation since 2010. The SMART project includes the seven pilot plants for decentralised wastewater treatment and reuse that are currently under construction in rural and peri-urban areas in Jordan.

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