Water supply and sanitation in Jordan
|Jordan: Water and Sanitation|
|Access to an improved water source||97% (2010)|
|Access to improved sanitation||98% (2010) |
|Continuity of supply||about once per week depending on season and locality (2009); continuous supply only in Aqaba |
|Average urban water use (liter/capita/day)||80|
|Average urban water and sewer tariff (US$/m3)||0.65 (2009, for Amman only, corresponding to a consumption of 20m3/month) |
|Share of household metering||95% (2007 in the Middle Governorates) |
|Share of collected wastewater treated||98%|
|Non-revenue water||44% (2008) |
|Annual investment in water supply and sanitation||USD 40 per capita per year (2005-2010 average) |
|Sources of investment financing||External grants (27%), external loans (3%), domestic bonds (36%) and government grants (34%) (2005-2010) |
|Decentralization to municipalities||No|
|National water and sanitation company||No|
|Water and sanitation regulator||Project Management Unit (PMU), only for private operators|
|Responsibility for policy setting||Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI)|
|Sector law||No comprehensive sector law, only the law creating WAJ|
|Number of service providers||4 (Water Authority of Jordan and three companies: Miyahuna, Aqaba Water Company and Yarmouk Water Company)|
This article was last comprehensively updated in June 2012, with partial updates in November 2013.
Water supply and sanitation in Jordan is characterized by severe water scarcity, which has been exacerbated by forced immigration as a result of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the Six-Day War in 1967, the Gulf War of 1990, the Iraq War of 2003 and the Syrian civil war since 2011. Jordan is considered as one of the ten most water scarce countries in the world. High population growth, the depletion of groundwater reserves and the impacts of climate change are likely to aggravate the situation in the future. The country's major surface water resources, the Jordan River and the Yarmouk River, are shared with Israel and Syria who leave only a small amount for Jordan. The Disi Water Conveyance Project from the non-renewable Disi aquifer to the capital Amman, opened in July 2013, increases available resources by about 12%. It is planned to bridge the remaining gap between demand and supply through increased use of reclaimed water and desalinated sea water to be provided through the Red Sea-Dead Sea canal. Despite Jordan's severe water scarcity, more than 97% of Jordanians have access to an improved water source and 93% have access to improved sanitation. This is one of the highest rates in the Middle East and North Africa. However, water supply is intermittent and it is common to store water in rooftop tanks. The level of water lost through leakage, underregistration and theft in municipal water supply (non-revenue water) is estimated at about 44%. Water tariffs are subsidized. A National Water Strategy, adopted in 2009, emphasizes desalination and wastewater reuse. The country receives substantial foreign aid for investments in the water sector, accounting for about 30% of water investment financing.
- 1 Access
- 2 Service quality
- 3 Water balance
- 4 Infrastructure
- 5 Water use and environmental awareness
- 6 Development of the water sector
- 7 Responsibility for water supply and sanitation
- 8 Efficiency
- 9 Financial aspects
- 10 External cooperation
- 11 See also
- 12 External links
- 13 Further reading
- 14 References
Jordan has reached a high level of providing water supply and sanitation services (see table). 97% of the population have access to improved water supply, 98% to improved sanitation, which is high compared to other developing countries and considering Jordan's very scarce resources. Although the physical infrastructure exists, a lack of available water causes a rising demand of bottled and tanked water for many households.
|Access to Water and Sanitation in Jordan (2004)|
(79% of the population)
(21% of the population)
|Water||Improved water source||98%||92%||97%|
According to WAJ, only 65% of the population are connected to the sewerage system. The rest of those having access to improved sanitation uses on-site sanitation solutions such as septic tanks. These septic tanks, if not lined properly, may leak to the groundwater aquifers and contaminate them.
Continuity of supply
Water supply in the Jordanian highlands, where most of the population lives, is generally intermittent. According to a 2008 study by the University of Michigan, water is delivered once a week in big cities like Amman and once every twelve days in some rural areas. According to a 2007 survey the mean rate of supply per week was 1.5 days in Madaba governorate, 2.9 days in Balqa governorate and 3.2 days in Zarqa governorate. In Amman, according to the water distribution plan of Miyahuna, 8 out of 44 main distribution zones received continuous water supply "except in emergency cases" in 2012. Most other distribution zones were scheduled to receive water for either once a week for 24 hours or twice a week for a total of 36–48 hours. To what extent actual supply follows the distribution program, especially during summer, is not clear. Since the Disi-Amman Conveyor became operational in summer 2013 the continuity of supply in Amman has increased.
Wadi Musa and the neighboring villages of Taiba, B'Doul and Beida were among the few localities in the Highlands that briefly enjoyed continuous water supply after a new well field had been built and the distribution network had been rehabilitated in 2001. However, only a few years later, water supply became intermittent again. Aqaba has always enjoyed continuous water supply thanks to abundant gravity-fed water supply from the fossil Disi aquifer in the Highlands above the coastal city.
Drinking water quality
Drinking water quality in Jordan is governed by Jordanian Standard 248 of 2008, which is based on the World Health Organization drinking water guidelines. Jordan's standards were modified in 2008 and previously in 2001, after a major drinking water pollution outbreak occurred in Amman in the summer of 1998 due to a malfunction of the capital’s major drinking water treatment plant. In 2001, specific measures to be undertaken in case of the occurrence of pollution in drinking water samples were included in the procedures that are part of the standard. A 2005 study of different potable water sources in four governorates showed that drinking water quality was in compliance with national physiochemical standards. For the purpose of monitoring groundwater quality, a network of observation wells is installed in each of the “groundwater basins”. At the household level water is stored in water tanks (usually on top of the buildings) to be used until the next turn of water supply. In a 2011 study by the Jordanian Government, more than 90% of samples taken at house water storage tanks in three Amman distribution zones (Rasheed, Kharabsheh and Khalda) had chlorine residual levels between 0.2 mg/l and 0.5 mg/l. These values are in compliance with the recommendations of the WHO Drinking Water Guidelines. According to the WHO, the water can thus be classified as "safe to drink". Despite these results, a 2012 Jordan Times article reported that “[a] customer satisfaction survey carried out by the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna) showed that customers avoid drinking tap water, fearing it is contaminated”.
Jordan's first wastewater treatment plant was established in 1970. The total number of treatment plants was 28 as of 2013, treating about 324,000 m3 per day (118 million m3/year), or about 98% of the collected wastewater. By far the largest treatment plant is the As-Samra plant that treats the wastewater of Amman-Zarqa, accounting for about 80% of all wastewater treated. The plant initially used the stabilization pond technology, but was rebuilt using the activated sludge technology in 2008 under a Build-Operate-Transfer contract signed in 2002. In June 2012 the government signed a contract for the expansion of the treatment plant to a capacity of 365,000 m3. Water is reused mainly for irrigation in the Jordan Valley, with some reuse for irrigation in the Highlands and limited industrial reuse in Aqaba.
|Wastewater treatment plants in Jordan (Source: WAJ)|
|Treatment technology||Design flow
|Actual average flow
|1||Aqaba Natural||1987||Stabilisation ponds||9,000||6,371||AWC||Local||No|
|2||Aqaba Mechanical||2005||Extended aeration||12,000||9,846||AWC||Local|
|3||Al Baqa||1987||Trickling filter||14,900||10,209||WAJ||Local|
|5||Irbid Central (Fo'ara)||1987||2014 (planned)||Trickling filter & activated sludge||11,023||8,132||YWC||Jordan Valley (planned)|
|6||Jerash (East)||1983||Oxidation ditch||3,250||3,681||YWC|
|7||Al Karak||2013||7,060||?||WAJ ||Local|
|8||Kufranja||1989||2014 (planned)||Trickling filter||1,900||2,763||YWC||Local|
|12||Abu Nuseir||1986||Activated sludge R, B, C||4,000||2,571||WAJ|
|14||As Salt||1981||Extended aeration||7,700||5,291||WAJ||Local|
|16||Wadi Al Arab (Doughara)||1999||2014 (planned)||Extended aeration||21,000||10,264||YWC||Jordan Valley (planned)|
|17||Wadi Hassan||2001||Oxidation ditch||1,600||1,132||YWC||Local|
|18||Wadi Musa||2000||Extended aeration||3,400||3,029||WAJ||Local|
|19||Wadi as Sir||1997||Aerated lagoon||4,000||3,624||Miyahuna||Local|
|20||Al Ekeder||2005||Stabilisation ponds||4,000||over 4,000||YWC||Plant overloaded||No|
|21||Al Lijoon||2005||Stabilisation ponds||1,000||853||YWC||No|
|22||Tall Almanta||2005||Trickling filter & activated sludge||400||300|
|23||Al Jiza||2008||Activated sludge||4,000||704|
|24||As Samra||1984||2004||Activated sludge||267,000||230,606||Suez-Morganti||Local and in Jordan Valley||Yes|
|25||Al Merad (Sakib)||2010||Activated sludge||10,000||1,000||YWC||Local|
|27||Al Mansorah||2010||Stabilisation ponds||50||15||No|
|28||Wadi Shalala||2013||Activated sludge||13,700||YWC||Jordan Valley (planned)||Yes|
|29||South Amman||2014 (planned)||Activated sludge||(52,000)||Miyahuna||planned|
Jordan is considered as one of the four most water scarce countries in the World. The limited water resources are exposed to pollution. Population growth is expected to increase the pressure on available water resources.
The National Water Strategy defines “water deficit” as “water demand” minus “water resources”. “Water demand” is not used in an economic sense where demand depends on price. Instead demand is defined as water needs derived from policy objectives. Thus the figure given in the strategy for water demand in agriculture - 1,080 million m3 (MCM)/year - is far greater than actual water use of about 600 MCM/year. In 2007, agriculture accounted for 72% of “water demand”, while the municipal share was 24% and the shares of tourism and industries were 3% and 1%, respectively. The water deficit of 565 million m3 (MCM)/year for 2007 thus is mainly caused by assumptions about “water needs” in agriculture.
The Strategy projects that municipal and industrial water needs will increase by 276 MCM/year from 2007 to 2022 (+ 29%), while agricultural water needs will stagnate. The Strategy envisages increasing water supply through three measures:
- more use of reclaimed water in agriculture and industry (+ 156 MCM/year),
- a net increase of fossil groundwater use (+ 59 MCM /year) through the Disi Water Conveyance Project to be completed in 2013, and
- the desalination of seawater as part of the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal (+ 500 MCM/year) to be completed in 2022.
These measures would provide more water than what is needed to cover the projected increase in municipal and industrial water demand. The remaining amount could be used to cover “water needs” in agriculture, to reduce groundwater overuse or to restore freshwater aquatic ecosystems.
Jordan's water resources include conventional as well as non-conventional resources, the latter e.g. comprising water reuse and desalination.
Conventional Water Resources
Conventional water resources in Jordan consist of groundwater and surface water. Countrywide, twelve groundwater basins have been identified. In terms of sustainability, their state can be described as critical since some of them are exploited to their maximum capacity, while others are overexploited, threatening their future use. The long term safe yield of renewable groundwater has been estimated at 275 million cubic metres/year. The major surface water sources are the Jordan River, the Yarmouk River and the Zarqa River.
Much of the flow of the Jordan River is diverted by Israel and much of the flow of the Yarmouk River by Syria, leaving only a small share to Jordan. Syria and Jordan have signed a bilateral treaty over the sharing of the Yarmouk River in 1987 in preparation for the construction of the Al-Wehda Dam on the border between the two countries. An Annex to the Israel–Jordan Treaty of Peace of 1995 specifies the allocation of the Jordan River and the lower Yarmouk River water between the two countries. As part of this treaty, Israel supplies Jordan with 20 million cubic metres per year during the summer from the Sea of Galilee in exchange for the same amount that Israel pumps from the Yarmouk River in the winter for storage in the Sea of Galilee. The treaty also specifies the supply of 10 million m3 of desalinated brackish water from Israel to Jordan and the supply of an additional 50 million cubic metres per year of drinkable water for Jordan from an unspecified source. This water could come from the Sea of Galilee or brackish water springs.
The Zarqa River is severely polluted by industry, municipal wastewater and non-point sources. The King Talal Dam, Jordan's largest surface water reservoir, faces low water levels and pollution. However, water quality in the King Talal reservoir has improved as a result of the construction of the new As-Samra wastewater treatment plant. The National Water Strategy estimates total renewable freshwater resources at 575 million cubic metres/year plus 90 million cubic metres/year of treated wastewater, totaling 665 million cubic metres/year.
Water reuse is an increasingly important element in Jordan's water balance. Reuse of treated wastewater ( also called "reclaimed water") occurs both indirectly, after discharge of the effluent to a river and mixing with freshwater, and directly, e.g. without mixing with freshwater.
Strategies and challenges. The increased use of reclaimed water is part of Jordan's national water strategy. As part of it, a strategy for pricing and marketing reclaimed water has been established. Extension workers from the Ministry of Agriculture use a computer-based information system to advise farmers on how to optimize their fertigation in light of the irrigation water quality, location, crop, soil type and other factors. Despite these efforts, the majority of farmers in the Jordan Valley are not aware of the nutrient content of the reclaimed water, although experience from demonstration sites shows that using it, fertiliser expenditures can be reduced by 60%. One challenge for the reuse of wastewater is the fact that industries discharge untreated wastewater into the sewer system. However, this industrial wastewater contains heavy metals and other substances which the municipal wastewater treatment plants cannot remove.
Standards. The Jordanian standard JS893:2006 restricts the re-use of treated domestic wastewater to crops that are not eaten raw. It distinguishes between seven different categories of reuse, setting different standards for each category. Industrial Wastewater Standard Specification No 202/2007 complements the above standards, also distinguishing between different reuse categories.
Furthermore, a Reuse Coordination Committee has been established. A crop monitoring program confirmed that use of treated wastewater in Jordan meets the health-based target recommended by the WHO guidelines for the safe use of treated wastewater.
Indirect reuse of reclaimed water from Greater Amman. The reclaimed water (treated wastewater) from the largest wastewater treatment plant in Jordan, As-Samra, flows through the Zarqa River into the King-Talal-Reservoir where it mixes with freshwater. From there it flows into the King-Abdullah-Canal in the Jordan Valley where it further mixes with freshwater. The diluted reclaimed water is reused on about 4,000 farms covering 10,000 hectares in the Southern part of the valley, mostly using drip irrigation.
Direct reuse projects. According to one estimate, 1,500 ha were irrigated with reclaimed water in the vicinity of treatment plants as of 2009 in 15 locations, of which the biggest are near As-Samra (510 ha), Aqaba (208 ha), Ramtha (121 ha) and Wadi Musa (107 ha). Crops irrigated are forage crops and tree crops. One of the first pilot projects for direct reuse was implemented in Wadi Musa with support from USAID. Water was first used to irrigate a demonstration farm, and then the fields of nearby farmers. Another pilot project was initiated using wastewater from the small Wadi Hassan treatment plant to irrigate green spaces on the campus of the University of Irbid, and commercial fruit plantations. In most cases of direct reuse, the Water Authority of Jordan, the operator of most municipal wastewater treatment plants in Jordan, has concluded contracts with farmers. The total area irrigated under contracts with WAJ is 760 ha, or about half the total irrigated area. It is thus about 12 times smaller than the area irrigated with indirectly reclaimed water from the As-Samra plant in the Jordan Valley.
Planned reuse of reclaimed water from Greater Irbid in the Jordan Valley. A major water reuse project is being planned to reuse water from three wastewater treatment plants in the area of Irbid in the North of Jordan through a project supported in the framework of Jordanian-German cooperation. As of 2006, only 14% of the wastewater from these plants was being reused. An explanation for this is that farmers in the Jordan Valley are reluctant to use the reclaimed water, which they perceive to be of poor quality, for irrigation. The wastewater thus flows into the Jordan River, unused. In the future, the treated effluent from the three plants will flow through a pipe into the Jordan Valley, generating hydropower from the elevation differential of more than 1,000m. It will then be mixed with freshwater and delivered to the farmers in a quality that is acceptable to them.
Desalination, which includes both desalination of sea water and desalination of brackish water, is another important non-conventional water resource for Jordan. The key project for sea water desalination is the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal project which is yet to be completed. The most important plant for desalination of brackish water is the Ma'in-Mujib system which supplies water to Amman.
Impact of climate change on the water balance
In 2009 a government report noted that "Jordan’s remarkable development achievements are under threat due to the crippling water scarcity, which is expected to be aggravated by climate change." Rainfall is expected to decline significantly and evaporation and transpiration of plants will increase due to increased temperatures.
Jordan’s water resources are located far away from its population centers, in particular the Greater Amman area where about half the country’s population lives and which lies at about 1,000 meter above sea level. To address this challenge, Jordan has developed an extensive water supply infrastructure to provide water for both irrigation and municipal uses.
The key elements of Jordan’s overall water infrastructure are
- the Al Wahda Dam on the Yarmouk River;
- the King Abdullah Canal (KAC) in the Jordan Valley which is fed primarily by the Yarmouk River, the Mukhaibah springs near the Yarmouk River and a number of wadis draining into the Jordan Valley;
- the As-Samra wastewater treatment plant that treats most of Greater Amman’s wastewater and discharges it to the Zarqa River; and
- the King Talal Dam on the Zarqa River from where the water returns to the KAC downstream of Deir Alla for irrigation in the Lower Jordan Valley;
The following systems provide drinking water for the Amman-Zarqa metropolitan area:
- The Disi Water Conveyance Project that extracts 100 million cubic metres of water a year from the fossil Disi aquifer 325 kilometres south of Amman.
- the Deir Alla-Amman system pumps up to 90 million cubic metres/year water from the KAC to Amman over a height of 1,200 meter and treats it in the Zai water treatment plant;
- the Ma'in-Mujib system desalinates up to 38 million cubic metres/year of brackish water from the Northeastern shore of the Dead Sea and pumps it to Amman, also covering a difference in altitude of 1,200 meter.
- a pipeline from a wellfield near the Azraq oasis to the East, local wells, and a small wellfield South of Amman.
Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal
The proposed Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal is a multi-billion dollar plan to build a canal from the Red Sea to the slowly evaporating Dead Sea. The project also incorporates the construction of a desalination plant. It is expected to provide Jordan with 500 million cubic metres of water annually. In August 2008, the Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation Raed Abu Soud denoted the project as "the solution to our water problems."
Water use and environmental awareness
Given the high water scarcity in Jordan, the average per capita use is lower than in most other countries. Water production before network losses is about 120 liters per person and day while actual consumption is close to 80 liters per capita and day. A survey of water consumption habits by households in Eastern Amman and in 14 villages in the Northern Governorates showed that total consumption per capita lies between 60 and 80 liters per day. About 20-30% of this water is obtained from sources other than the public piped system, including from bottled water, water bought from tankers, rainwater harvesting and springs. In rural areas, 28% of households surveyed harvested rainwater and stored it in cisterns for drinking, since they considered it to be of better quality than piped water. In Eastern Amman, 12% of households bought water in large bottles and 30% bought water from private tankers. Most households have roof storage tanks with a volume of 1–2 m3. According to the 2009 Population and Family Health Survey, 31% of households use bottled water, 7% use rainwater, 2% tanker water and 60% tap water as their primary source of drinking water. According to the same survey, 22% of households filter tap water and the majority does not apply any type of treatment. A 2007-08 survey by the German-Jordanian water programme in the middle governorates Zarqa, Balqa and Madaba showed that 79% of households use tap water as their main source of drinking water and that 37% of households treat water before drinking it. Treated water bought in 5-gallon canisters and private water vendors that supply water in trucks are the main source of drinking water for 15% of households.
The government as well as different NGOs have been making efforts to increase public awareness of water scarcity and to encourage water conservation. One example is the Water Wise Women Initiative carried out since 2007 in initially five local communities throughout Jordan. The initiative builds on the efforts of volunteers organized in 50 community development centers by supported by the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD). It trains female volunteers called "change pioneers" in topics such as water saving, rainwater harvesting, water storage, plumbing, hygiene and water use for house gardening. It thus provides opportunities for women to generate income and to reduce expenses for bottled water, water bought from trucks and hired plumbers. In addition, the initiative reaches out to school girls and children, e.g. via a cartoon addressing water issues.
Development of the water sector
Due to the arid and semi-arid climate, the sound management of water resources has been an issue in Jordan since the establishment of the Kingdom in 1946 and before.
Institutional shifts. In 1959, the Central Water Authority was created with the responsibility for municipal water supply, centralizing a function that was previously the responsibility of municipalities. In 1965, it merged with an irrigation agency to become the National Resources Authority (NRA), only to be split again to become the Domestic Water Supply Corporation in 1974 and the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) in 1983. The latter was subordinated under the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) when it was created in 1988, thus institutionally separating policy-making from service provision.
Private sector participation. Major reforms were undertaken in 1993 when it was decided to bring in a private company under a management contract to run the water and sanitation system of Amman. An important motivation for this step was to increase cost recovery. The management contract ended in 2007 when a subsidiary of WAJ, Miyahuna, took over the management of the system.
National Water Master Plan. A digital National Water Master Plan was launched in 2004. It is an integrated plan that enables decision makers to set polices and strategies based on planning scenarios derived from sectoral water consumption trends. The Master Plan is based on the Water Information System (WIS) which contains all monitoring data related to demands and resources.
National Water Strategy. In May 2009, King Abdullah gave the go-ahead for a National Water Strategy until 2022. The strategy includes investments of Jordanian Dinar 5.86 billion (USD 8.24 billion) over a period of 15 years, corresponding to more than 160% of Jordan's GDP. It also foresees a decreasing reliance on groundwater from 32% in 2007 to 17%, increased use of treated wastewater in agriculture from 10% to 13% and increased use of desalination from 1% to 31%. According to then-Minister of Water, Raed Abu Soud, even after the completion of the Disi Water Conveyance Project, the water deficit in 2022 will still be about 500 million cubic metres, highlighting the need for desalination under the Red Sea-Dead Sea canal. The strategy also envisages institutional reforms such as enacting a new water law, separating operational from administrative functions, as well as production from distribution operations, creating a Water Council with advisory functions and establishing a Water Regulatory Commission.
Responsibility for water supply and sanitation
Policy and regulation
The Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) is the official apex body responsible for the formulation of national water strategies, policies and planning, subject to approval by the Council of Ministers. The MWI has been established in 1988 through a bylaw. The establishment of the MWI was in response to Jordan's recognition for the need of a more integrated approach to national water management. Since its establishment, MWI has been supported by several donor organizations that have assisted in the development of water policy and water master planning as well as in restructuring the water sector. Two key agencies in the water sector are under the authority of the Ministry: The first of them is the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) which is mainly in charge of water and sanitation service provision. It provides its services directly or through public companies that it owns (see below). Moreover, WAJ is also responsible, together with the Ministry, for water resources planning and monitoring. It also regulates water abstraction by all users, including itself, by issuing licenses. WAJ thus combines both regulatory and service provision functions.
The second institution directly subordinate to the MWI is the Performance Monitoring Unit (PMU), previously called Programme Management Unit. It is in charge of projects with private sector participation. It has also carried out major investment projects such as the water loss reduction program in Amman and has regulated the private operator in Amman from 1999 to 2006. The PMU was supposed to be an embryonic unit for a future semi-autonomous water regulatory agency for the entire country, to be established by law outside of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. As a step in that direction, a Water Sector Audit Unit (WSAU) was established in the PMU in May 2008. The unit has set up a benchmarking system using performance indicators that have initially been applied to the Aqaba Water Company and Miyahuna. Due to the absence of a regulatory agency, tariff setting is the responsibility of the Cabinet, after proposal from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.
WAJ is responsible for planning, construction, operation and maintenance of the public water supply and sewer services either directly or indirectly through its subsidiaries. It has been established as an autonomous corporate body, with financial and administrative independence linked with the Minister of Water and Irrigation.
One of WAJ’s subsidiaries is the Aqaba Water Company (AWC), a public company established in August 2004 as Jordan's first semi-autonomous water utility. It is owned by WAJ (85%) and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZA; 15%) whose establishment triggered the establishment of AWC. A second public water company, the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna), was set up in 2006 for the Governorate of Amman. The company, which was created to take over service responsibility from a private operator, is a 100% subsidiary of WAJ. A third public company, the Yarmouk Water Company (YWC), has been be set up in 2010, serving the four Northern Governorates of Jordan, namely Irbid, Jerash, Ajloun and Mafraq. YWC is also a 100% subsidiary of WAJ and replaces the Northern Governorates Water Administration (NGWA).
Amman management contract. In 1999, a public-private partnership (PPP) started with the signing of a Management Contract between WAJ and the private joint venture Lyonnaise des Eaux - Montgomery Watson - Arabtech Jardaneh (LEMA), led by the French company Lyonnaise des Eaux, now known as Suez Environnement. According to the contract, LEMA was responsible for operating and managing water and wastewater services in the Greater Amman area on behalf of WAJ. The original five-year contract which began in August 1999 was extended until December 2006. The contract was intended to strengthen the technical structure and management capability as well as to develop the skills and knowledge of the staff. To this end, a small team of experienced expatriates worked with, and trained, around 1250 local staff. LEMA received treated water from number of WAJ sources. It also collected wastewater and transported it to treatment plants. The company was able to comply with 12 out of 15 performance targets. In the service area, i.e. in the Amman Governorate, access to supply increased from 90% in 2000 to universal access in 2005. At the same time, sewer connections increased from 69% to 80%. In 2007, the Jordan Water Company Miyahuna replaced LEMA after its contract had been extended one final time for an extra six months.
As-Samra Build-Operate-Transfer. The wastewater treatment plant As-Samra, the largest such plant in Greater Amman, is being operated by a consortium led by SUEZ under a 25-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) contract with WAJ.
Madaba Micro Private Sector Participation. In the Madaba Governorate, a different model of private sector participation (PSP), called Micro PSP, has been carried out starting in 2006. The Micro PSP involved outsourcing customer service operations to Engicon, a local operator hired on a three-year performance-based contract. Aims of the project were to improve water and wastewater revenue, to increase the billing rate and to develop the customer management organisation, thereby improving efficiency. To achieve this, Engicon trained staff, surveyed and mapped all subscribers and regulated routes to meter readers (to eliminate reader monopoly). The Micro-PSP with Engicon had a variety of positive effects for the Madaba Water Administration: As a result of the cooperation, the Madaba Water Administration could start issuing its own bills instead of having to rely on WAJ structures. The accuracy of meter reading improved and net billed water increased by 75%. Net collections increased from 0.9 million in 2005 to 1.9 million in 2008. The levels of non-revenue water (NRW) initially dropped from an average of 45% to 34%, but in 2009 they were back at 40% due to an increase in water pumping pressure. Advantages of the Micro-PSP model include the fact that WAJ maintained asset ownership and that all revenue collected went to WAJ, so that investment costs could be fully recovered within 13 months of operation. The performance-based contract set strong incentives for the private operator to deliver concrete results.
More than 15 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work directly or indirectly on water issues in Jordan, including the Jordan Environment Society  (JES) and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. NGOs carry out awareness projects and provide support to community projects together with national and international partners. NGOs are particularly engaged in water harvesting and water reuse. The Royal Scientific Society, through its Environmental Research Center, undertakes applied research including water quality assessments and wastewater management.
In addition to large-scale solutions there are also several community-based approaches aiming at a more sustainable use of Jordan’s water resources. An important fosterer of these small-scale community-based approaches is the “Community Based Initiatives for Water Demand Management Project” (CBIWD), a project organised by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in cooperation with Mercy Corps, the Jordan River Foundation and the Royal Scientific Society which is supported by USAID. The CBIWD supports a variety of project types, among them e.g. rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse projects.
The rainwater harvesting projects are mostly located in Jordan’s North since rainfall is higher in this region than in the rest of the country. The communities, who are often not connected to the piped network, use harvested rainwater instead of or complementary to piped freshwater.
Concerning the reuse of greywater, Jordan’s Ministry of Water promotes this alternative source especially in the agricultural sector, but also in hotels, government premises and on the individual household level. The most important motivation for using greywater - next to saving freshwater - is to cut down water bills.
The share of non-revenue water (NRW) - water which is produced but not billed - was estimated at 44% in 2008. The main reasons leading to this high rate are leakage, by-passing of meters, illegal connections, unreliable water meters and problems concerning the reading of those meters. Measures to decrease the rate of NRW can thus contribute to relieve the high pressure on water resources. In Amman, the level of non-revenue water has been reduced from an estimated 46% in 2005 to an estimated 34% in 2010. However, during the same period the average hours of service per week declined from 66 to 36.
Water and sewer services in Jordan are heavily subsidized. The revenue covers only part of the operation and maintenance costs, especially after the near-doubling of electricity tariffs in 2011 since 14% of electricity in Jordan is used to pump drinking water and to treat wastewater. Subsidies to the water sector amount to more than 0.4% of GDP.
Tariffs: Structure, level and adjustment
The water tariff system is an increasing-block system, under which users pay a higher tariff per m3 if they consume more water. The first block, corresponding to a consumption of 20m3 per quarter, is a minimum charge independent of the amount of water consumed. As of 2010, the residential minimum charge in Amman was JD5.12/quarter for water and sewerage, including a fixed surcharge of JD2.15 and a meter fee of JD0.3. This corresponded to an average unit tariff of JD0.26/m3 (US$0.37/m3) for this consumption level. For a consumption level of 20m3 per month (60m3 per quarter) the average unit tariff was JD0.47/m3 (US$0.65/m3). Tariffs in the rest of the country were lower than in Amman with a minimum charge of JD4.42/month and JD4.35/month respectively. The price for each next m3 increased until it reached a tariff of JD1.24/m3 plus a fixed surcharge and meter fee of JD5.45 at a consumption of more than 130 m3/month. Tariffs for non-residential customers were set JD1.56/m3 independently of the level of consumption.
Since January 2011, the tariff system distinguishes between two areas of the country: In areas served by public companies - the governorates of Amman, Aqaba, Irbid, Jerash, Ajloun and Mafraq - tariffs are higher than in the rest of the country where services are provided by WAJ.
Any adjustment of water tariffs requires Cabinet approval. In September 2009, King Abdullah stated that water tariffs would not be increased. In June 2010 the government announced the first tariff increase since 1997, emphasizing that low-volume consumers would not be affected because the tariff in the first block remained unchanged. The tariff increase, said to amount to only 9% for volumes beyond the first block, would became effective in January 2011. At the same time, the billing cycle was changed from every three months to monthly. Furthermore, tariffs in five governorates were silently substantially increased to the same level as in Amman. In February 2012 the Cabinet decided to return to the quarterly billing cycle and to further increase tariffs in the higher blocks of consumption.
There is also a sewerage tax that is set at 3% of the assessed property value. Despite rising property values the sewerage tax revenue has remained constant for many years at JD15m per year, representing less than 10% of water revenues.
Combined water and sewer bills amount, on average, to less than 1% of total houshold expenditures and are thus quite affordable. The intermittent supply leads many to rely on bottled or tanked water, which is about 8 to 10 times higher than piped water, so that total household expenditures are often much higher than the utility bill. Prices paid to water vendors are 4 to 8 JD per m3. In 2007 it was estimated that an average poor household with 6 members in the Middle Governorates spends 31-39 JD per year on its water and sewer bill at a consumption of 70 liter/capita/day, corresponding to only 0.4% of household expenditures. However, if other items are added the picture changes substantially: it costs 35 JD per year to depreciate the cost of a 2 m3 rooftop storage tank over 10 years; 160 JD per year to buy 2 liters/capita/day of bottled water at a price of 0.04 JD per liter (0.80 JD per canister of 5 gallons); and 153 JD per year to buy the equivalent of 28 liters/capita/day at a price of 2.50 JD/m3 from water vendors. This amounts to 374 JD per year and household, corresponding to 6.3% of expenditures. In addition, for households not connected to the sewer network the cost of emptying septic tanks at a cost between 21 and 40 JD per load needs to be added to calculate total water and sanitation expenditures. In conclusion, the cost of the water bill thus is only a fraction of total water expenditures, and household water expenditures could be lowered significantly if a sufficient quantity of good quality water was supplied on a reliable basis.
Jordan’s Water Strategy 2009-2022 includes investments of Jordanian Dinar 5.86 billion (USD 8.24 billion) over a period of 15 years, corresponding to more than 160% of Jordan's GDP. According to an earlier water sector investment plan for the time from 1998 to 2010 (published in 1997), the estimated costs for water projects were USD 1,916 million, while sanitation projects were estimated at USD 926 million US$, corresponding to about USD 240m per year. Actual investments towards the end of that period were only slightly below these expected figures: They stood at 900m JD in the six years from 2005-2010, averaging 150m JD (USD 215) or 28 JD (USD 40) per capita.
In the period 2005-10, public investments in water supply and sanitation were financed from the following sources:
- JD 325m (36%) through the sale of WAJ bonds:
- JD 305m (34%) by the Jordanian treasury;
- JD 255m (27%) through grants from foreign donors.
- JD 30m (3%) through foreign loans.
WAJ local currency bonds had a maturity of only three years, are government-guaranteed and pay 4 to 7% interest. WAJ debt increased by 900% to JD 621 million in only five years. 73% of grants were provided by USAID. Since then, the share of loan financing in total financing has increased, including loans from Germany and France.
Additional financing not included in the figures above is obtained from private sources through Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) projects. There are two such projects in the water sector, one to finance the Samra wastewater treatment plant and the other and largest one to finance the Disi-Amman carrier. The latter is partially financed by about USD 190m of private equity from GAMA Energy, a joint venture between the Turkish firm GAMA Holding and the US firm General Electric Energy Financial Services. In addition, the government provided a grant of USD 300m and loans totaling USD 475m by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the United States, the European Investment Bank and Proparco of France.
The major external public donors in Jordan's water supply and sanitation are the United States, Japan, Germany and the European Union, primarily through the European Investment Bank (EIB). Other donors are the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, the Saudi Fund for Development, the Abu Dhabi Fund, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Italy, France, Norway, South Korea, The Netherlands, Canada, Spain, Sweden, China and Libya. The following paragraphs summarize the cooperation with some of Jordan's most active external partners in the water sector.
European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank (EIB) approved two loans for the rehabilitation of the water supply network in Greater Amman in 1996 and 1998 for a total of 49 million Euro. WAJ has benefited from 8 EIB loans amounting to 61.5 million Euro between 1984 and 1998.
Germany has been enaged in supporting the Jordanian water sector for several decades through three agencies: GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) in charge of technical cooperation, the development Bank KfW in charge of financial cooperation and the Federal Geological Agency BGR in charge of hydro-geological studies.
GIZ. The German technical cooperation agency GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) supports the Management of Water Resources Programme initiated in 2006. The Jordanian partner is the MWI. The main objective of the program is to increase sustainable use of the available water resources. Furthermore, it seeks to resolve conflicts between the different water demanding sectors, namely the domestic, industrial and agricultural sector. To achieve these objectives, the program "examines legal and institutional frameworks", offers training, supports the establishment of databases and sets up "organisational structures and processes to improve efficiency". The use of treated wastewater in agriculture and the establishment of water user associations is encouraged. GIZ works together with German companies which participate under the framework of a public-private partnership.
KfW. The German government-owned development Bank KfW has a series of water and sanitation projects in Jordan with a total commitment of Euro 245m in 2009. The currently largest project supports the extension of sewer networks and the construction of a wastewater treatment plant in Irbid through a Euro 62.95m loan approved in 2000. The treated wastewater is to be reused for irrigated agriculture. Other projects approved around 2000 include a Water Loss Reduction project for Irbid and Jerash (EUR 18.2 m loan), a Water Loss Reduction project for the Northern Governorates (EUR 21.7 m loan and EUR 3.5 m grant), a Water Loss Reduction project in Karak (EUR 16.2 m loan and EUR 2.24 m grant) and a sanitation project in Karak and Kofranjah (EUR 15m loan and EUR 1.45m in grants). In 2006, KfW approved another series of loans, including for a third project supporting the reduction of distribution losses in Amman in partnership with other donors through a 11m Euro loan with the objective of saving 2.5 million m3 of water per year, enough to provide 70,000 beneficiaries with water. Other projects approved around 2006 include a project for water transmission in the Northern Governorates (EUR 15 m loan) and a project for water management in the Middle Governorates (EUR 5.3 m loan). In 2009, KfW modified its cooperation with Jordan from a project approach to a program approach, bundling its new funding in a single "Water Resources Management Program" (2009–2014) that covers water loss reduction, sanitation and the use of reclaimed water from Irbid for irrigation in the Northern Jordan Valley. The new program approach is expected to allow flexible responses to changing circumstances.
Past projects financed by KfW include a water supply project in Wadi Musa; an integrated poverty-oriented project targeted at refugees and squatters which included investments in water supply and sanitation; sewage disposal for Greater Irbid; and a trunk sewer and associated pumping stations linking up to the wastewater treatment plant As-Samra near Amman. In Wadi Musa the Euro 11.3 million project achieved, for a brief period, continuous water supply as well as a reduction in distribution losses. The project was co-financed by France and, concerning sanitation, by the US. The Euro 16.3 m poverty-oriented infrastructure project implemented by the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) of Jordan increased access to water and sanitation in two squatter settlements and four refugee camps. The investments in the camps were chosen in close dialogue with the residents who were organized in Community Improvement Committees, and were carried out between 1999 and 2002. The project complemented the World Bank-financed Community Infrastructure Development Project. The Euro 60.1 m Greater Irbid sewage disposal project (1994–2002) included the construction of two wastewater treatment plants and the associated sewer infrastructure connecting 202,000 residents, as well as training for operational staff. Both treatment plants operated satisfactorily four years after they had been completed. Residual sludge is being properly disposed on a landfill.
Japan supports the Jordanian water sector primarily through three projects:
- Improving water supply in Zarqa Governorate (4.1bn Yen or about US$41 million grants from 2002 to 2010), including through loss reduction, reaching a total of 780,000 residents in East Zarqa (Awajan) and Russeifa (Phase I) and in Zarqa City (West Zarqa), Hashmeyeh and Sukhna (Phase II).
- Reduction of non-revenue water (NRW) through technical assistance, beginning in Amman in 1999, followed by pilot activities in parts of 10 governorates (2005-2008) and eight more pilot activities in six governorates during a "Phase 2" (2009-2011). During Phase 2 non-revenue water in the pilot areas was reduced from an average of 49% to only 22%, according to JICA.
- Energy conservation through the upgrading of the water supply network in Zarqa Governorate (about US$12 million) since 2009. The program also includes technical assistance for operation and maintenance.
Japanese aid is in the form of grants administered by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Japanese assistance is tied, meaning that consultants and contractors have to be from Japan. An important completed project supported by Japan was the doubling the capacity of Zai Water Treatment Plant on the carrier from Deirala in the Jordan Valley to Amman to 250 million liter/day, covering a population of 1.9 million people (US$79.1 million grant, 1998–2001).
United States of America
US assistance to the water and sanitation sector in Jordan is provided through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
USAID support for infrastructure. Under the Wadi Ma’in, Zara and Mujib water treatment and conveyance project, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded a water treatment plant that delivers 100,000 m3 of water per day to about 700,000 people in the Greater Amman area. The treatment plant captures water from brackish streams which is desalinated using reverse osmosis. The remaining highly saline water (brine) is discharged to the Dead Sea. Also in Amman, in addition to the $125 million Zara Ma’in Water Supply project mentioned above, USAID partially funded the construction of the As Samra $167 million build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract for wastewater treatment of 60 million m3 per year. Approximately 46% of the cost was provided by USAID in the form of a grant. Furthermore, USAID is implementing a $72 million component of the multi-donor rehabilitation of Amman’s potable water distribution system. In Aqaba, USAID also supported the rehabilitation and expansion of a $31 million wastewater treatment plant and rehabilitation of the water distribution system.
Technical assistance and training by USAID. The USAID-funded Watershed Management project strengthened the relationship between the Ministries of Health and Water related to water standards and regulations, Quality Assurance/Quality Control program for laboratories, and new procedures that aim at reducing water treatment plant shutdowns. A Water Demand Management (WDM) Unit was established at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation with assistance from USAID, and a WDM curriculum has been inserted into Jordanian classroom textbooks from grades 1 through 11. A Masters Degree program has been established at Jordan University of Science and Technology, and journalists have been trained. Auditing and retrofitting of public and private buildings (hotels, schools, hospitals, government and commercial) indicated that 40 to 60% are now using water-saving devices. A “model” community was rehabilitated to demonstrate water and associated energy conservation. Twenty-seven grants have been awarded to poor communities to alleviate water shortages and inefficient water usage. Furthermore, training courses under a program with Washington State University have been completed for more than 800 employees from the Jordan Valley Authority, Water Authority of Jordan and Ministry of Water and Irrigation to improve and standardize accounting systems, and to improve efficiency.
Millennium Challenge Corporation. In October 2010, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Jordanian government signed a US$275.1m grant agreement to expand water distribution, wastewater collection and the As Samra wastewater treatment plant, all in the Zarqa governorate.
From 1999 to 2007, the World Bank contributed with US$55 million to the Amman Water and Sanitation Management Project. One objective of the project was to lay the groundwork for sustainable private participation in the sector through a management contract. According to the World Bank, although the management was not extended, "the management operator was able to comply substantially with 12 of 15 performance targets" and, in the seven and a half years of the project, "the practice of modern utility management was introduced, and the accountability of the operator was established".
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