Thursday, July 03, 2014

Drying of Azraq

In his piece about dessication in the Middle East, Scott Greenwood singles out Azraq in Jordan:
One dramatic effect of groundwater over-abstraction was the destruction of the Azraq wetlands in eastern Jordan. The wetlands had served as an oasis for humans and animals for centuries before the unsustainable extraction of groundwater caused the springs feeding the wetlands to dry up in the early 1990s. Today the wetlands are only 0.04 percent of their original size, and groundwater from the Azraq aquifer continues to be pumped to satisfy the needs of Jordan’s northern cities. One relatively positive development for the wetlands —and for Jordan’s water security in general — is the recent completion of the Disi Water Conveyance Project. This project is provides nearly 100 million cubic meters of fossil groundwater annually to the capital. Amman, and this has lessened the need to pump water from Azraq to Amman for municipal use. However, the Disi project is not without its own challenges as the water from Disi is naturally radioactive and must be mixed with other sources of freshwater to make it safe for consumption. In addition, the cost of pumping the Disi water to Amman – about 400 miles away – has greatly increased the budget deficit of the Water Authority of Jordan and is putting pressure on the government to raise water prices for consumers.
On an ancient history note, the earliest named Arab in the historical record, "Jindibu the Arab," was probably from Azraq.  He was an ally of Israel's King Ahab against the Assyrians.

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