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4.5 Case study on hydro-powered brackish-groundwater desalination by reverse osmosis: A proposal for co-generation in the Disi-Aqaba water supply scheme


Aqaba, with a population of 42,400, is the largest city in the Ma'an governorate and the fourth largest city in Jordan (DSJ 1988).

The port of Aqaba is Jordan's only access to the sea and therefore of strategic importance to commerce and industry. The highest growth of water demand is projected in the Ma'an governorate, from 11 million m per year in 1990 to 29 million m in 2005, with the greatest increase being in water demand for industrial use (World Bank 1988). Aqaba regional development will be even more constrained by water shortage for municipal and industrial use because of complete dependence on non-renewable or fossil groundwater in the deep sandstone Disi aquifer, about 50 km north-east from the city of Aqaba.

This section examines the application of mini-hydro-power from groundwater for brackish-groundwater reverse-osmosis desalination, proposing that mini-hydro-power plants and a RO desalting plant should be added to the existing Disi-Aqaba water pipeline system. This new proposal for co-generation would include the following objectives to sustain regional economic development:

>> recovery of the potential energy in the existing groundwater pipeline (trunk main) system, which is being wasted;

>> conservation of the non-renewable fresh groundwater in the Disi aquifer, replacing it by developing the brackish groundwater in the Kurnub sandstones;

>> desalting the brackish groundwater by hydro-powered reverse osmosis, using some of the recovered hydro-potential energy in the existing pipeline;

>> testing the technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the proposed cogenerating application with mini-hydro-power and RO desalination;

>> conservation of energy and water resources by introducing hybrid hydropowered RO desalination with an energy-recovery system.

4.5.1 Background of the Aqaba water supply

Aqaba is situated at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea, at the southern end of Wadi Araba (fig. 4.2). Only 40 years ago Aqaba was a sleepy little fishing village whose small population lived in mudbrick houses nestling among palm groves which are still a delightful feature of the town.

However, as well as being Jordan's only outlet to the sea, Aqaba occupies a strategic position, providing an important link between the Middle East and East Africa. The port of Aqaba was a strategic point in the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s, and again in the Gulf war of 1990-91. It now handles all the sea imports and exports of Jordan as well as much of those for Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The volume of traffic through the port has increased spectacularly since just before the Gulf war, and Aqaba is still an important commercial centre. This expansion has been accompanied by rapid growth in industrial development along Jordan's limited coastline.

As a small fishing town, its water needs were readily met from shallow wells dug near the sea which produced sufficient quantities of good fresh water permeating to the sea through the alluvial fan of Wadi Araba. But shortly after World War II, as the demand for water increased, boreholes were drilled further inland. Well No. 1 was constructed in 1958, 2 km north of the sea. In 1964 well No. 2 was drilled further inland and water pumped to a 2,250 m reservoir, augmenting the supply.

Over-pumping of these wells resulted in the intrusion of seawater. To satisfy the increasing demand, additional holes were drilled in the deep alluvial deposits of Wadi Yutm. Until the middle 1970s these wells provided the entire water supply for Aqaba, but, with the limited yield of the alluvial aquifer, there have been increasing shortages, especially during the hot summer months, and rationing has been necessary for a number of years.

4.5.2 The Disi aquifer

Since the heart of the project is the water source, and the success of the scheme depends entirely on a correct assessment of the yield of the aquifer, intensive hydro-geological studies have been carried out since 1976 (NRA] 1977, 1978).

Groundwater flow through the Disi area originates in the Um Sahm mountains, discharging in a north-easterly direction around each end of the geological feature called the Kharawi dyke, which forms a natural underground barrier. The new wellfield at Qa Disi will intercept a large proportion of the flow at present passing round the northwestern limit of the dyke and will slowly develop in the groundwater a large depression, centred at Disi. The extent and rate of development of this depression has been simulated by digital computer models (NRAJ 1982). From the model simulation studies that have been carried out it was concluded that the aquifer will support a maximum abstraction from the Qa Disi area of between 17 and 19 million m per year for at least fifty years. The maximum capacity of the scheme has therefore been fixed at 17.5 million m per year.

4.5.3 Disi-Aqaba water supply scheme

The Aqaba water supply scheme comprises four main elements: (1) the wellfield and headworks complex, (2) the trunk main from Disi to Aqaba, (3) the trunk distribution main from Aqaba to a fertilizer factory near the Saudi border, and (4) a distribution network within the town (fig. 4.4). The scheme was completed and has been in operation since the end of 1981.

HEADWORKS. For the first-stage development to exploit 10 million m per year, seven boreholes 400 m deep were drilled to penetrate the Disi sandstone aquifers. The finished diameter of the upper half of the boreholes is 219 mm and of the lower half 171 mm. Each borehole is equipped with twin submersible pumps delivering water through collecting mains into a reservoir from where the water gravitates to Aqaba. Power for the pumps is provided by a power station equipped with four diesel generating sets of 550 kW each.

Fig. 4.4 Disi-Aqaba water supply system

TRUNK MAINS. A ductile iron trunk main 800-450 mm in diameter and 92 km long carries the water to Aqaba and southwards to the fertilizer factory near the Saudi border. Pressure is broken at three locations along the pipeline, as shown in the profile of the trunk main (fig. 4.5), to limit pressure to a maximum of 25 bar, which is the ceiling bearing capacity of the ductile iron steel pipe used in this project.

A large reservoir of 9,000 m capacity, sited immediately north of Aqaba, provides a buffer to absorb fluctuation in demand downstream and reservoir storage in the event of a pipeline failure. A 4,500 m reservoir is constructed at the fertilizer factory to provide service storage for the factory and for other industrial developments expected in the same area.

PROJECT COST. The total cost of the Disi-Aqaba water supply project was estimated at ID 11 million (US$44 million at 1978 prices of the Jordan Water Supply Corporation), including the following main cost elements:

Fig. 4.5 Disi-Aqaba hydro-powered RO desalination scheme and brackish groundwater

The total cost of the project is estimated to be US$74.8 million, assuming price escalation at 170% from 1978 to 1990 (IMP international financial statistics, 1990/1978).

4.5.4 Introduction of mini-hydro development

The theoretical hydro-potential of the Qa Disi wellfield, which is situated at an elevation of 840 m above sea level, is preliminarily estimated to be 5.2 MW by assuming a flow discharge of 0.663 m/sec with an effective differential head of water of 800 m (95 % of the total head). This hydro-potential energy is being wasted by breaking the water pressure at three locations along the pipeline as described above.

This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of using the hydropotential in the trunk main between Disi and Aqaba by installing a series of mini-hydro stations in the existing trunk main at each point with a difference head of water of about 200 m. The head difference between the collecting reservoir (840 m) and the terminal reservoir (220 m) is 620 m. The hydro-potential of the existing trunk main between the collecting reservoir and the terminal reservoir is estimated to be 3.2 MW, using the equations given in section 3.6.3 to evaluate the hydro-potential and power.

The flow discharge is assumed to be 17.5 million m per year (0.555 m/sec), which is equivalent to a design capacity of 0.663 m/sec with a unit operating time of 21 hours per day. The effective differential head of water is estimated to be 589 m, assuming a 5% friction head loss.

From the optimal layout of the pressure pipeline system (fig. 4.5), two hydro-power stations would be installed, at ground elevations of 630 m and 410 m respectively.

By assuming a synthesized efficiency of 0.80 and a generating efficiency of 0.873, the installed capacity and annual power output are estimated to be 2 MW and 15,900 MWh per year respectively. The details are shown in table 4.1.

4.5.5 Conservation of fossil groundwater in Disi

Disi is currently exploited for M&I water supply for Aqaba (8.5 million m per year) and for irrigated agriculture. The recorded extraction for 1986 is 14.5 million m, but 3,000 ha have now been developed for agriculture, implying an extraction of over 30 million m per year, and licences have been granted to drill wells for the irrigation of over 20,000 ha, implying an annual extraction of over 200 million m. It should be noted that the aquifer is extremely expensive to develop for irrigation for growing wheat: the water table lies 250-300 m below the surface and wells have to be drilled to a depth of 500-1,000 m. Furthermore, Disi represents, with Al-Wuheda dam, Jordan's last substantial unexploited water resource and deserves to be regarded as a strategic water reserve. A World Bank study (1988) recommended that the aquifer be monitored at present abstraction levels to confirm the most reasonable long-term yield for M&I supply in south Jordan.

Table 4.1 Installed capacity ana annual power output of Disi-Aqaba groundwder-hydro scheme

Station Elevation (m) Effective head (m) Installed capacity (kW) Potential power generation (MWh/year)
Hydro-powera RO recoveryb
1 630 200 1,039 7,946 -
2 410 200 1,039 7,946 -
3 220 180 - - 810
TOTAL     2,078 15,900 810

Note: Friction head loss assumed to be 5% of the total head. Synthesized efficiency assumed to be 0.80. Load factor of mini hydro-power generation, 83.7% (0.555/0.663). Elevation of collecting reservoir, 840 m above sea level. Elevation of terminal reservoir, 220 m above sea level.

a. Groundwater hydropower potential.
b. Energy recovery from hydro-powered RO desalination.

4.5.6 Brackish groundwater resources

The Kurnub group of Lower Cretaceous age underlies almost all of Jordan. It is composed of sandstones with poorly to very well cemented facies interbedding silts, clays, shales, and occasionally dolomitic layers. It is thought to be a deep aquifer unit with a large storage potential and a maximum thickness of about 1,000 m or more. The water table, however, is about 200300 m or more below the ground level, and permeability and salinity vary in place and depth. The quality of the groundwater varies from 300 to 2,800 mg of TDS per litre, but it is considered to be mostly brackish except for minor recharging areas in the north-western highlands.

In southern Jordan, the Disi aquifer is unconformably overlain by the Khreim formation, which is about 100-300 m thick and stores brackish groundwaterin its upper to middle sections. Brackish groundwater is also found in the Kurnub formation along the southern edges of the Jafr basin about 25 km north from the Disi (fig. 4.5). The depth of the pumping water level will range from 100 to 250 m in the Khreim formation between Disi and Muddawwara, while it is as deep as 230325 m in the Kurnub formation along the southern fringe of the Jafr basin. These brackish waters with salinity between 1,000 and 5,000 mg of TDS per litre in southern Jordan would mostly be fossil with limited amounts of natural recharge from rain. The storage potential, however, has been estimated to be as large as 16,600 million m (NRAJ 1986). Brackish-groundwater development with desalination may thus be able to replace existing fossil-groundwater abstraction from the Disi aquifer.

4.5.7 Hydro-powered brackish-groundwater desalination by RO

Co-generation, that is annexing of a brackish-groundwater RO desalination unit to a groundwater-hydro system would develop the hydro-potential energy in the differential head of water between the Disi wellfield at 840 m and the Aqaba terminal reservoir at 220 m. Two thirds of the differential head of water would be used to generate hydro-powered electricity and one-third to produce the hydraulic pressure for permeating the RO (fig. 4.5). The proposed co-generating system for the Disi-Aqaba water supply scheme would include the following objectives and measures:

>> developing clean hydro-potential energy in the existing water trunk main between Disi and Aqaba, amounting to 620 m of differential head of water, thus indirectly conserving fossil (oil) energy in generating electricity;

>> co-production of hydro-powered electricity and fresh water for Aqaba M&I water supply;

>> development of brackish groundwater resources in the Khreim and/ or Kurnub formations, conserving fossil groundwater in the Disi aquifer, which has been being abstracted for M&I water supply for Aqaba since 1970;

>> direct use of hydro-potential energy for generating pressure for reverse osmosis, utilizing part of the hydro-potential energy at 150250 m of differential head of water in the trunk main, whose pressure at 15-25 kg/cm is the optimum requirement for operating reverse osmosis;

>> pioneer research on brackish-groundwater RO desalination in Jor dan, evaluating the cost-effectiveness of minimizing operation and maintenance costs, which are a major cost factor in desalination engineering.

Brackish groundwater would be pumped at a rate of 0.663 m/sec from the Khreim and/or Kurnub formations underlying the area of Disi-MuddawwaraShidiya, and be conveyed to a collecting reservoir at an elevation of 840 m. For the purpose of this case study, the design value of the salinity of the feed water is assume to be 4,000 mg of TDS per litre.

The brackish water would flow down from the collecting reservoir at 840 m elevation to the desalination plant and terminal reservoir at 220 m through the existing pipeline system, passing two mini-hydropower stations by steps at 630 m and 410 m respectively. The installed capacity of the two stations is estimated to be 2,078 kW and the annual power output 15,900 MWh.

The hydro-powered RO system would have three parts: a pretreatment unit, a pressure pipeline unit, and the RO unit itself. The pretreatment unit would be sited just beside the outlet of the second minihydro-power station at 410 m elevation and would include dual-media filters (hydro-anthracite and fine sands) and cartridge filters (5-microm size). After passing through the cartridge filter, the flow would pass through a pressure pipeline (the trunk main) between 410 m and 220 m to obtain a hydraulic pressure of 18 kg/cm, which would be used directly to overcome the osmotic pressure and permeate the RO membrane. The main heart of the RO unit is a low-pressure-type membrane, spiral-wound in a composite-type 8-inch-diameter module, with the following specifications:

A unit line of the RO vessel would consist of a series circuit of six modules. Recovery is estimated to be 70% of the feed water, including 40,100 m per day of permeate with a salinity of 500 mg TDS per litre and 10,200 m of brine reject with 17,700 mg/l, The effective pressure of the brine reject is estimated to be 15 kg/cm, assuming a friction loss of 3 kg/cm in the RO circuit. The potential energy recovery from the RO brine reject is preliminarily estimated to be 136 kW, assuming the total efficiency of the turbine generator to be 80%, which would generate 810,000 kWh of electricity per year with a load factor of 68%. Another alternative would be to develop 0.72 m/sec of brackish groundwater to produce 43,400 m of permeate per day, which is equivalent to the current water supply volume of 15.8 million m per year.

UNIT WATER COST. The total investment cost for the proposed hydropowered RO desalination, based on 1990 prices with 8% interest during three years' construction, is preliminarily estimated to be US$56,088,000, with an annual capital cost of US$2,677,000, comprising the following major elements:

The annual cost of the operation and maintenance is estimated to be US$2,631,000, including the following main cost elements:

The above cost estimates are based on 1990 prices and the following assumptions:

The unit water cost for 14.6 million m of design annual product water is estimated to be US$0.41/m.

COST FOR GROUNDWATER HYDRO-POWER. The capital cost of the proposed two mini-hydro-power stations, each equipped with a 1 MW Pelton turbine, is preliminarily estimated to be US$2 million, accounting for only 5.7% of the capital cost of the RO unit. The generated power of 16 million kWh per year will be used in part to supply elec tricity for pumping the groundwater wells and in part to recover the investment cost of the plants. The costs of existing hydraulic structures such as pipelines and reservoirs are referred in section 4.5.3 above.

OTHER DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVES. After yielding its hydropotential energy in the recovery unit, the pressure-free brine water at 17,700 mg of TDS per litre would be discharged directly into the Gulf of Aqaba, where it would combine harmlessly with seawater at 45,000 mall; or it could be used for blending with distilled water if a thermal or solar seawater desalination system were constructed. The desalination of seawater at Aqaba will be an important means of supplying fresh water from non-conventional sources, which may include the following four options:

Non-conventional water-resources development alternatives including hydro-powered brackish-groundwater desalination and seawater desalination at Aqaba can therefore be integrated into the framework of a regional water master plan that would make the region self-supporting.

A pumped-storage application with seawater RO desalination for cogeneration in the context of an inter-state Aqaba regional economic development plan is discussed in section 5.6.


4.6 Non-conventional water-resources development in the national water master plan of Jordan


The potential contribution of non-conventional water-resources development, including the proposed co-generation with hydro-powered RO desalination, in a national water master plan for Jordan for the twenty-first century is studied here, taking into account that 95% or more of the national renewable water resources are going to be fully exploited to meet the increasing demand, especially in the population centres, by the year 2000. Non-conventional water-resources development will be increasingly important in such planning.

4.6.1 Development alternatives and priority

A general characteristic of non-conventional water resources is that they are generally more complex to develop and operate than con ventional sources, and they are almost always more expensive. In most cases, non-conventional measures involve considerably more risk than conventional solutions, and no single non-conventional solution is suitable for all watershort areas. At the same time, by providing water to an arid area, nonconventional water resources may offer an opportunity for development previously considered impossible.

In any situation where a conventional source of water can be developed, it will almost always be preferred to a non-conventional source. However, if conventional groundwater or surface water supplies are inadequate, consideration should be given to some of the nonconventional water-resource techniques. Accordingly, non-conventional water resources are considered here in the context of a national water master plan for Jordan.

CONVENTIONAL ALTERNATIVES. Conventional alternatives comprise fresh surface water and fresh renewable and non-renewable groundwater.

The main potential for further surface water utilization in Jordan is through the construction of new water-storage facilities on the Yarmouk River and riftside wadis, including:

>> the Al Wuheda dam on the Yarmouk,

>> development of the northern Ghor side wadis (Karameh, Kifranja, Al-Yabis, and raising the Kafrein dam),

>> development of the southern Ghor side wadis (Wale recharge dam, Nkheila dam, Tannour dam).

The most important of these will be the Al-Wuheda dam, with a gross capacity of 230 million m. The total gross water storage potential of the proposed projects has been estimated to be 300-350 million m.

The potential for further development of renewable groundwater resources is small. Current intensive abstraction amounts to 333 million m per year, which accounts for more than 90% of the estimated long-term safe yield of 356 million m. More attention needs to be given not to development but to management of the aquifer system, taking into account the need for sustainable development to avoid over-extraction and deteriorating quality.

The main potential for non-renewable groundwater lies in the fossil aquifer of Disi, Jordan's last major exploitable source of good-quality water after the Al-Wuheda dam. The Disi groundwater scheme will require expensive conveyance over a distance of about 350 km to the population centres of the north-west highlands (Amman). The mining yield potential, which has been evaluated by a series of computer model simulation studies, has been estimated to be 110 million m per year for over 100 years. This non-renewable alternative should be regarded as a strategic reserve, guided by careful monitoring of the aquifer and stepwise development over a decade.

The Disi aquifer is part of an extensive inter-state deep sandstone aquifer system in the Arabian peninsula underlying south-eastern Jordan and northwestern Saudi Arabia. In the early 1980s Jordan feared that the hydraulic influence of Saudi Arabia's intensive abstraction might cross the state boundary. However, the rapid increase in Saudi abstraction from the Tabuk wellfield between 1982 and 1985 dropped the pumping levels by more 120 m of water head, and in its Fifth Development Plan (1990-1995) the government of Saudi Arabia decided to cut part of the national water supply by decreasing the abstraction of non-renewable groundwater for the supply of irrigation. From the experience in Saudi Arabia, the economic limit of abstraction from the Disi aquifer will probably be reached much sooner than expected.

NON-CONVENTIONALE ALTERNATIVES. Alternatives for the development of non-conventional water resources available to Jordan include the following:

>> desalination of brackish groundwater and seawater, including cogeneration, groundwater-hydro, and hydro-powered RO desalination,

>> the reclamation and reuse of municipal sewage effluents,

>> weather modification,

>> inter-state water transportation, including the Euphrates-North Jordan transmission scheme and the Peace Pipeline project.

Brackish groundwater reserves are found in most deep aquifer systems, including the Middle to Lower Cretaceous sequences such as the Ajlun and Kurnub formations. In the extensive eastern desert, groundwater generally has a brackish nature, and is even found in shallow aquifer systems, including the Amman-Wadi Sir formation. The salinity of such brackish groundwater is in the range of 2,000-5,000 mg of TDS per litre, which fits within the effective range of reverse-osmosis desalination.

In 1982 Jordan's first RO desalination plant, with an installed capacity of 80,000 US gallons (300 m) per day, was commissioned at the Zarqa oil refinery, where the supply source of the groundwater had been contaminated with increasing salinity, from a TDS content of 336 mg/l in the 1960s to 1,700 mg/l, in 1980 (Alawin 1983).

The most promising brackish groundwater resources are to be found in the Amman-Wadi Sir (B2/A7) formation in and around the Azraq springs, about 100 km east of Amman/Zarqa. The priority use for brackish-groundwater RO desalination of the Azraq wellfield will be for M&I water supply, since the piezometric head of the B4 aquifer system is being lowered by over-pumping and is suffering from increasing salinity. The Azraq wellfield has the following characteristics:

Brackish groundwater in deep aquifer systems such as the Kurnub formation has a depth to the water table of more than 200-250 m. The storage potential for brackish groundwater in deep aquifer systems is more than that for fresh water reserves in shallow aquifer systems. The hydrological characteristics of brackish groundwater systems, however, range between renewable and non-renewable. Careful assessment and management of the brackish groundwater resources would be required to sustain development by the application of desalination.

Seawater desalination is possible only in the Gulf of Aqaba. Small scale seawater RO desalination has been carried out for boiler water supply at the Aqaba steam-power plant since the mid-1980s. It is quite clear that the cost of desalting seawater is usually three to five times as high as desalting brackish water (see Appendix A). Water for Aqaba is presently being supplied by developing fossil groundwater from the Disi aquifer, and it is recommended in this study that this source should be replaced by the desalination of brackish groundwater in the adjacent Kurnub aquifer by a hybrid hydro-powered RO system, which can be expected to reduce both the cost and the energy requirement and will help to sustain valuable groundwater resources as a longterm policy. A proposal for seawater desalination, to be coordinated with the National Water Carrier of Jordan, which would convey water from the sea to the population centre of Amman, would require lifting water about 1,000 m or more. At present, seawater desalination has no feasibility except to supply water for M&I use in the Aqaba coastal region. There is still the opportunity to desalinate seawater and lift the product water up to a 1,000 m elevation in the future by developing new renewable-energy alternatives, including solarenergy conversion and ocean-thermal-energy conversion in the hot and arid climatic region of the Gulf of Aqaba.

It is proposed that priority should be given to the development of brackish-groundwater desalination for municipal water supply and that feasibility studies might be undertaken of the following two possibil ities:

>> the desalination of brackish groundwater at Azraq to supply water for Amman,

>> hybrid hydro-powered RO desalination of brackish groundwater from the Kurnub aquifer to supply water for Aqaba.

The reclamation and reuse of municipal sewage effluents as an additional water resource continues to increase potential water resources, corresponding to the increases in water demand and supply in Greater Amman, which consumes about 60% of the total water supply in Jordan. Almost all the sewage effluents in the Amman-Zarqa region are discharged into the Zarqa River system, whether treated or not. The Kherbet Samra sewage plant, which collects the effluents from metropolitan Amman and Zarqa, treated 33.2 million m in 1989 and discharged it into the Zarqa River to enhance the base flow of the river system. The King Talal dam on the lower reaches of the Zarqa River subsequently harvests all the sewage effluents that flow into the river system. The Zarqa is mainly polluted by the untreated sewage effluents in its upper reaches, while there is some natural purification in both the flowing and impounding processes. The sewage effluents harvested in the King Talal reservoir are reused exclusively for irrigation water supply in the Ghor (Jordan valley). The exceptional topography of the north-west plateau and the escarpment of the Jordan valley permits reuse for irrigation in the valley of the bulk of the return flow of water used in the uplands.

Weather modification, which includes artificially induced precipitation, or cloud seeding, could probably provide an inexpensive source of water under certain meteorological conditions. However, specific verification is necessary in each mountainous region of Jordan. Experiments on the upper Jordan River in Israel provided encouraging results under the particular orogenic and climatological conditions on the southern slopes of the Anti-Lebanon range (Mount Herman), where the ground elevation exceeds 1,500-2,000 m, with an annual rainfall of more than 500-1,000 mm (Kelly 1974). In Jordan, the potential area for cloud seeding is limited to Ajlun mountain. Cloud seeding may not be very promising, however, since the orogenic and climatic conditions of the Ajlun mountain zone are less attractive than those of the upper Jordan River in Israel. Cloud seeding on the southeastern slopes of Mount Hermon in Syria, where the headwaters of the Yarrnouk River originate, may have the same effect as experienced in Israel. In any case, international cooperation is needed to develop a weathermodification program.

Inter-state water transportation alternatives may include the Euphrates transmission scheme to Jordan and the Peace Pipeline scheme. The transport of water by tanker and barge is a more remote alternative for Jordan, since the main demand area is in northern Jordan, where the ground elevation exceeds 800-1,000 m.

A feasibility study of the Euphrates-North Jordan transmission scheme was made in 1983. This would transport water from the Euphrates River in Iraq to north Jordan (Amman) by water pipeline. Al Qaim, situated on the Euphrates where it enters Iraq, at an elevation of 163-165 m, offers the highest abstraction level, thereby minimizing the overall static lift between the river and the delivery point in north Jordan. The scheme was scheduled to abstract up to 160 million m of water annually (5 m/sec) from the Euphrates River. The pipeline system was designed for a 5 m/sec rated capacity, 605 km in length, 1.5-2.0 m diameter, 830 m static lift, and 1,380 m of total pumping head (NPCJ 1983). Such an inter-state water transport scheme might be technically and economically feasible if the water were to be used for domestic purposes.

Turkey's ambitious Peace Pipeline proposal, which aims to transfer water from the Ceyhan and Seyhan Rivers in Turkey to eight states in the Arabian peninsula, includes an assumed potential water delivery of 600,000 m per day (219 million m per year) to Jordan.

Both the Euphrates-North Jordan and the Peace Pipeline schemes have been put aside, however, owing to political constraints, including interstate riparian-rights questions on the Euphrates River, where the use of water as a political weapon has been increasing. These interstate water-transportation projects have now been emphatically rejected by all Arab states, who have said that if necessary they will depend on non-conventional waters in their territories, including seawater desalination. Development priority is therefore likely to be given to marginal waters as non-conventional water resources, taking into account not only technical, financial, and economic but also political feasibility.

4.6.2 Desalination development strategy in the national water master plan

Desalination to develop previously unusable brackish groundwater and seawater as sources of potable water, including energy-saving applications of co-generation and hydro-powered RO processes, should be included in the context of a master plan for the development of the water resources of Jordan. In such a plan, the use of this relatively expensive water-treatment process should be entered into with caution, after the possibility of utilizing more conventional and possibly less expensive sources of water has been carefully weighed. The master plan should include measures for the conservation and optimum development and management of all these natural resources. Steps should be taken to ensure the rational use of water and minimize wastage. Water quality should be maintained at acceptable levels, and an appropriate pricing policy should be established, including the diversion of water from irrigation to municipal and industrial use. The use of fossil groundwater in Disi for growing wheat is one particularly questionable application.

Elements that should be included in a water master plan for the next twenty to thirty years may be delineated by decades into short-, medium-, and long-term development stages as follows, with special focus on the inclusion of non-conventional water resources:

>> short-term development strategy (1990-2000)

>> medium-term development strategy (2000-2010)

>> Long-term development strategy (2010-2020)

The most important, and the highest-priority schemes will be the AlWuheda dam and other storage dams on the side-wadis of the East Bank. These storage, flood-retention, or groundwater-recharge dam schemes would reduce the inflow from the river system into the Dead Sea and be linked with the Mediterranean-Dead Sea conduit scheme in the context of an inter-state basin-development master plan which would be beneficial to Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. Further discussion of the water politics of inter-state basin development of the Jordan River system is included in chapter 5.


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