Jordan's Minister to Visit Syria for Talks on Water Issues
Jordan's minister of water and irrigation, Hatim Halawani, will leave for Syria next week to discuss joint water issues, mainly the mutual utilization of Yarmouk River water and the planned start of the construction of the Wihdeh Dam, reported the Jordan Times newspaper Thursday.
Minister of information, Taleb Rifai, said Wednesday that the region is facing "a serious water crisis, but there is no lack of cooperation [between the two countries] and no unwillingness on both sides."
According to a bilateral agreement reached in 1987, Syria is allowed to store annually 164mcm in around 25 ditches on the Syrian side of the river and to pump another 71mcm for irrigation purposes in the upper Yarmouk area, said AFP.
Jordan, according to the same agreement, can use the residual water of the flow, of which it has to give 25mcm annually to Israel as is stipulated in the water annex of the peace treaty between the two countries.
Water experts said the water level of the Yarmouk River has reached a historic low because of the cumulative effects of both several years' of drought and the high number of Syrian ditches tapping into the river, according to the paper.
According to the paper, the joint Syrian-Jordanian Wihdeh Dam project on the Yarmouk River is supposed to supply an additional 85mcm to the governorates of Amman and Irbid, as well as generate power for the two countries: 75 percent of the power for Syria and 25 percent for Jordan.
But experts told the paper that the project is not feasible because of the low water level of the river.
In 1999 and 2000, Syria supplied Jordan with 8mcm and 3.5mcm of drinking water respectively to help the government cope with soaring water shortages during the summer months -- Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)