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close this bookManaging Water for Peace in the Middle East: Alternative Strategies (UNU, 1995, 309 pages)
close this folder4. Hydro-powered reverse-osmosis desalination in water-resources planning in Jordan
View the document4.1 Background and objectives
View the document4.2 The water resources of Jordan
View the document4.3 Water-resources development and management
View the document4.4 Non-conventional water-resources development
View the document4.5 Case study on hydro-powered brackish-groundwater desalination by reverse osmosis: A proposal for co-generation in the Disi-Aqaba water supply scheme
View the document4.6 Non-conventional water-resources development in the national water master plan of Jordan

4.1 Background and objectives

4.1.1 Background

Jordan is located to the north-west of the Arabian peninsula and extends from 29° to 33 north latitude and from 35° to 39° east longitude, with an area of 89,555 km² (fig. 4.1).

More than 80% of the country is covered by almost unpopulated desert. The population was estimated to be about 2.8 million in 1985, about 90% of whom live in the north-west quadrant of the country. Greater Amman, which is a metropolitan district within a 30 km radius from the centre of Amman city, occupies 3% of the area of the country, but its population is as much as 1.62 million (573 people per km²), or about 60% of the whole population of Jordan. The national population growth rate was about 3.7% per year in the 1970s (Huang and Banerjee 1984), mainly due to migration from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The population growth rate is expected to decline slowly to about 3.2% by the year 2010. Municipal and industrial water use is expected to increase from 24% of total water use in 1985 to 30% in 2005 and 45% in 2015, assuming a modest consumption rate of 83 litres per capita per day for domestic use. The national water demand was simply projected to increase to 1,209 million m³ per year by the year 2000, assuming a growth rate of 2.5%-3.5% in population, 5% in industrial uses, and 4% in agriculture uses (MPJ 1990). Effective rainfall as the potential renewable water resource was estimated to be 1,123 million m³ per year, with 245 million m³ becoming groundwater and 878 million m³ running off as surface flow (World Bank 1989).

Fig. 4.1 Jordan and Israel

Limitations of water, one of the important resources of Jordan, are likely to have a major impact on the economic development of the country. By the year 2000 most of the conventional water resources in the country will have been fully exploited by conventional measures such as constructing dams and drilling wells. The development of marginal non-conventional water resources will therefore become a key measure in the twenty-first century for sustaining economic development.

Non-conventional water in Jordan consists primarily of brackish water, seawater, and reclaimed urban waste water. In the 1970s it was considered that large-scale seawater desalination projects would become both technically feasible and economically viable as water supply alternatives in the early 1990s (Buras and Darr 1979). Innovative research in 1980s on membrane technologies for desalination has been changing the world market by reducing the share of conventional MSF distillation, which has so far been the only method used in Middle East countries (see Appendix A). The development of saline water resources by desalting with reverse osmosis and other membrane processes will play an increasingly important role in the context of the national water master plan.

4.1.2 Objectives

The main purpose of studying the application of hydro-powered RO desalination in a case study on the Aqaba-Disi groundwater development and water supply project is to evaluate the technical feasibility and costeffectiveness of the proposed co-generation system.

The proposed co-generation system aims not only to conserve the fossil groundwater resources in the Disi aquifer but also to retrieve the hydropotential energy in a pipeline system for both the generation of electricity and desalting brackish groundwater from the Kurnub aquifer.

Potential non-conventional water-resource applications such as the proposed hydro-powered RO desalination are examined in the context of the national water master plan for sustainable development in Jordan in the twenty-first century.