Water Scarcity, Quality and Environmental Protection Policies in Jordan
Jordan is one of the most arid countries in the world at 169m3 per capita per year of annual renewable fresh water resources from internal and external sources (see Figure 3.1 and WRI, 2003). Population increases coupled with economic growth are further straining water resource availability, as well as increasing competition among sectors for water resources. In this race for valuable water resources, ecosystems have been losing out to agriculture, industry and drinking water requirements, and as impacts of decreasing fl ows and quality degradation became apparent, so has the need to do something about it, so as not to lose these valuable ecosystems. An example of ecosystem degradation is the Azraq oasis, a Ramsar site, which due to abstractions for domestic and irrigation purposes now receives only 10 per cent of its historical fl ow of water – which has refl ected negatively on the size and health of this historical oasis. Similarly, the fl ow of water into the Dead Sea has substantially decreased from both surface and groundwater fl ows, which resulted in a decrease of sea level by an average of a metre annually. The degradation of the Zarqa and Jordan rivers is obvious as well, where these rivers are only a shadow of what they used to be at the beginning of the 20th century.