Water scarcity undermines eco-cities goal in Jordan
U.S. Water News Online
SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan — Water scarcity and environmental degradation are costing Jordan $186 million a year and undermining a government-sponsored program to impose green standards on the country's cities, the environment minister said.
Three months ago, Jordan announced green targets for its cities, calling the initiative the first of its kind in the Arab world. The program sets legally mandated minimum standards for the country's cities, including using more solar, wind and other alternative energy sources and cutting carbon emissions.
Environment Minister Khaled Irani told a conference of 450 alternative energy experts from the Middle East, the United States and Europe that, like other countries in the region, water scarcity remains a significant hurdle in Jordan.
Desert Jordan's lack of water, along with soil erosion and deforestation, are costing it 3.1 percent of its estimated $6 billion gross domestic product — or $186 million — each year, he said.
"We're not turning a blind eye toward these challenges, but are facing them head on," Irani said.
The water problem is being addressed through rationing and wastewater treatment, he said.
Jordan has few rivers, unlike its neighbors Iraq, Syria and Israel, and it depends on rainfall for drinking water. Jordan consistently reports a 30 percent shortfall in water for drinking and for household and industrial use.
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