Jordan Denies Syria Violating Water Agreement
Jordanian Minister of Water Hazem Nasser has denied that Syria is not abiding by a 1987 water-sharing agreement that legalized more than 25 ditches on the Syrian side.
“I saw the [Syrians'] dams empty. They gave us what they had,” Nasser told the Jordan Times, referring to the two million cubic meters (mcm) of water Syria has given to Jordan this month.
“Only one dam [had water], which is the Sahm Golan dam. It contained 5mcm. Three million cubic meters were kept for the needs of the area [in Syria] and two mcm were given to us,” said Nasser.
“I cannot but thank the Syrians for their contribution,” he added.
According to the agreement, Syria is allowed to store annually 164mcm in these ditches and pump another 71mcm for irrigation purposes in the upper Yarmouk area. It was stipulated that Syria would not build further ditches.
Water experts, however, said that since signing the agreement, Syria had built seven additional dams and occasionally drilled in the Yarmouk basin to extract groundwater to expand agriculture in the area, thus further depleting the river of water resources.
Press reports had said Jordan was seeking to revise the agreement in order to render the Wihdeh Dam feasible. In its heyday, the Yarmouk River's annual water flow hit 25mcm, of which Jordan's share should have ranged between 185 and 200mcm per year.
The Wihdeh Dam was put on hold in 1985 because of shaky Jordanian-Syrian relations. It was revitalized when ties with the Syrians improved following King Abdullah's ascenion to the throne and Bashar Al Assad's move to the presidential office – Albawaba.com
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