Thieves divert public water in Jordan for greenhouses and swimming pools.
With the Middle East facing a severe water shortage, government efforts to desalinate sea water, regulate usage and prevent waste are being undermined by a growing problem: theft. Thieves have gotten creative about diverting water from public pipes for private or business purposes, bypassing the water authority’s meters and ending up with free, unrestricted amounts of high-quality water.
Jordan has seen 100 cubic meters an hour stolen from its supplies over the last six months, and authorities estimate that 7% of Amman’s water supply has been lost this year, most likely to theft.
The executive director of the Jordan Water Company, Saad Abu Hammour, is especially concerned about an increase in aggressive tactics used to steal public water.
After receiving a complaint about illegal water usage in Muwaqqar, Miyahuna teams discovered four separate breaches, where water was being siphoned from their 300-millimeter diameter supply pipeline in the district.
“One of the violators extended a 1.5-inch diameter pipe and pumped out 15 cubic metres per hour from our network to irrigate his 150-dunam farm, fill his swimming pool and sell water to adjacent industries and farms,” Abu Hammour said.
Another violation, which the Miyahuna official described as “the most outrageous” case, was registered last Saturday in Um Al Amad.
According to the company, the violator dug up a main street to reach Miyahuna’s 80-centimetre diameter underground pipe to pump water to his properties.
“The violator extended a two-inch diameter pipe to our pipeline and then repaved the street with asphalt. He used the water to irrigate 40 greenhouses, supply his villa with water and fill up a 100-cubic-metre swimming pool,” Abu Hammour said, noting that each greenhouse consumed 800 cubic metres per day.
As populations increase and water quality and availability decrease, governments will need to crack down on water thieves. They will most certainly adopt two main techniques to deal with this problem: use of existing and developing technology to uncover theft quickly, and increased punishments and fines for violators. The punishments recently meted out in Jordan did not deter the thieves, who repeated their theft a few days later.
Unfortunately, water theft has broad implications not only for the water supply but for the economy and society. Abu Hammour notes, “Water loss is not only costing us our water, money and other people’s right to equal distribution, but it also prevents us from receiving loans from international funding agencies, which place reduction of water-loss as a precondition to loan approval.”
More green posts by Hannah Katsman:
Meat Prices Going Up? Tips for Switching to a Vegetarian Diet
Twelve Tips for Saving Water in the Kitchen
Stay Cool This Summer by Drinking Tap Water