Case Study 2: Economics of Groundwater Depletion
Pages 10

The country of Jordan relies on both surface water and groundwater as sources of water supply and is now depleting its aquifers. Jordan with an area of 89,200 km2 is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world (SPG, 2004). Its estimated 4 million people receive average annual renewable water from precipitation of only 240 m3/person, but only 200 m3/person/year that is usable (p. 181), 35% that of neighboring Syria and Israel (SPG, 2004). Documented water use in 1991 was 835 million cubic meters (MCM) per year of which 73% was agricultural, 22% municipal, and 5% industrial (p. 189). This total use exceeded the estimated renewable water of 793 MCM/year by 42 MCM/year (pp. 188-189). Because of variability in supply and insuffi cient ability to store large volumes of water, surface water sources are not utilized entirely. As of the early 1990s, the total groundwater stock of Jordan has been estimated to be between 19,320 and 24,580 MCM (p. 185). Groundwater sources are being depleted to address the water demand, particularly for irrigated agriculture. Schiffl er notes that (p. 182):

Schiffl er carefully and thoroughly evaluates various groundwater depletion paths for a basin in Jordan, the Zarqa Basin in the northern part of the country, and whether water transfers between categories of water users could improve employment and development in the country. The evaluation also includes consideration of alternative sources, such as piping surface water, seawater desalinization, and “virtual water” from the import of grains and vegetables. The evaluation incorporates hydrologic, economic, social, and political factors. This summary will mainly focus on the economic aspects of situation.