by Hana Namrouqa/ Jordan Times
AMMAN — Lab tests have confirmed the safety of water from the ancient Disi aquifer, which has high levels of natural radioactive particles, after it was mixed with fresh water, according to a senior government official.
Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazem Nasser said that after the Disi Water Conveyance Project started experimental pumping to Amman last week, tests showed that water from the Disi aquifer in the southern region meets drinking water standards.
“A series of lab tests designed to measure the levels of radioactive particles in the Disi water confirmed that the water became safe and in line with Jordan’s drinking water standards after it was mixed with water from the Zai Treatment Plant,” Nasser said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times.
Underscoring that the measure is followed with several water resources in Jordan, Nasser added that the tests are also carried out in accordance with World Health Organisations guidelines.
“The tests proved the efficiency of the mixing procedure and that the mixed water was in accordance with the biological, chemical and physical standards of Jordan’s drinking water,” the minister stressed.
A study released in 2009 claimed that underground wells in the Disi aquifer in the south of the Kingdom have 20 times more radiation than is considered safe for drinking.
At the time, government officials and water experts said radioactive particles occur naturally in underground water and that fossil water all over the world contains radioactive substances that vary from one well to another and from one area to another, but underscored that mixing water from different resources is a standard and safe solution followed in several countries.
The tests were carried out as the Disi Water Company started on Wednesday experimental pumping of water from the Disi aquifer to the capital.
“Forty to sixty per cent of the Disi project’s capacity of 100 million cubic metres was pumped to the Dabouk reservoir in west Amman,” Nasser said in the statement.
The water pumped to the reservoir had high chlorine levels to sterilise the pipeline and the reservoir, a source at the ministry told The Jordan Times.
“The water was flushed to the wadis near the reservoir and the pipeline is now ready to convey water to the capital,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Pumping is expected to start within two weeks at 50 per cent capacity, the source added.
The Disi project, which started in 2007, entailed drilling 64 wells, 55 of which will be used for the generation of water, while nine will serve as piezometer wells to measure the elevation of water.
Carried out on a build-operate-transfer basis, the Disi project seeks to provide the capital with 110 million cubic metres of water annually via a 340-kilometre pipeline, which will convey water from the southern region to the capital, passing through several water stations in Maan, Tafileh, Karak and Madaba.
The project is viewed as the Kingdom’s first step towards achieving water security, according to Water Ministry officials, who said the water supply to Amman and Zarqa, 22km east of the capital, among other governorates is expected to improve.