Sunday, 18 March 2012

Jordan's Water Shortage - A Grim Reality

   ‘Paul, we have found new ways to gain access to deep water resources that will help to rebalance Jordan’s position on the water map of the region. We’ve been using some of the most sophisticated deep geophysical mapping systems in the world, systems developed to explore for oil and gas in the Gulf. Because of our partners, we can combine that ability to see further underground than ever before with cutting edge French micro-boring technology. We know where the deep water is and where it flows and that it flows through Jordanian land. We can tap into those aquifers before they rise across the border. You see? We can keep our water, we can seize it back from them.’
   I was taken aback by the fire in Daoud’s voice. ‘Can you make it work? I mean, you’ve not only got physical constraints but political ones too.’
   My question merely fanned his passion. Daoud’s hand was on my shoulder as he leaned forwards, his eyes locked on mine and his fervour drawing me in.
Olives, Page 136

As I’ve said before, the Jordanian water shortage aspects of Olives – A Violent Romance are based on reality. Daoud’s aquifers idea was sparked by the existence of a network of Roman aquifers in the country to the north, the ‘Qanat Romani’. There are also a number of deep underground springs that do, indeed, rise into Lake Tiberias. So why not drill deep and tap these springs before the water leaves Jordanian territory?

Of course, the scheme would not meet with approval from ‘next door’, which is core to the events in Olives – Daoud’s scheme is either brilliant or criminally irresponsible, depending on your point of view. Certainly, such a scheme would never be endorsed by a reasonable government. But then we’re looking at a government with its back to the wall here, the water shortage so compelling they’d grasp at any solution that addressed the drought.

The Jordanian water shortage is a very grim reality -the Fourth World Water Development Report (WWDR), recently released by UNESCO, projected that by 2022, Jordan's population could exceed 7.8 million, raising water demand to 1,673 million cubic metres (mcm), and pushing the water deficit from the current 457mcm to 659mcm within a decade.The report itself is linked here and it's a grim read for many Middle Eastern countries - Jordan being one of the most deeply affected by the heady combination of a growing population and diminishing resources.

Here’s a slice of the evidential ‘back story’ from Olives, the introduction to a news feature filed in the Jordan Times under a pen name by one Paul Stokes at the behest of Ibrahim Dajani.

  When French geologist André Sillere started to map the locations of ancient Roman aquifers, the Qanat Romani that dot the landscape in parts of North and Western Jordan and Syria, he little realised that his actions would lead to a tragic chain of events that culminated in the infamous Amman night club bombing in which fifteen people lost their lives.
  Sillere had evolved a theory that there were previously unrealised deep underground water sources in Jordan and he approached Jordanian businessman Daoud Dajani with the idea of tapping them. It was Dajani’s funding that allowed Sillere, supported by technical experts from French water company AquaPur and Jordanian company Jerusalem Holdings, to put his theories to the test and prove the availability of significant new water resources that could provide Jordan with critical relief in its search for solutions to the country’s water crisis.
  But the scheme, part of Jerusalem’s upcoming bid for the Jordanian Water Privatisation, potentially means that Israeli water resources would be depleted. And Israel’s reaction has been both swift and deadly...
In fact there is a an extensive system of well-documented aquifers in the North West of Jordan, the 'Basalt aquifer' shared between Jordan and Syria. Daoud's aquifer scheme is actually surprisingly possible.
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