SMART: Sustainable Management
of Scarce Resources
in the Coastal Zone

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JORDAN: Gulf of Aquaba

Jordan is a country with limited water resources where the per capita share of water is less than 200 m3. The total renewable water resources are about 940 million cubic meters compare to the total population of 5.0 million. The country is located in the semi-arid to arid region of the world where only about 10% of the total area (90,000 km3) receive above 350 mm of rainfall per year. The water problem in Jordan is not limited to shortage of water but the quality issue is rising. This is due to deficit irrigation with not enough leaching, use of wastewater and marginal water, and increasing the sources of pollution due to urbanization and industrialization. Water allocation for different sectors is distributed as: 610 MCM for agriculture, 270 MCM for domestic purposes and 60 MCM for industrial and other purposes. These amounts come from: 350 MCM as surface water, 440 MCM of renewable groundwater, 70 MCM as non-renewable groundwater, and 70 MCM from treated wastewater.

These problems are of course most pronounced in the coastal region. The only coastal area in Jordan is the Gulf of Aqaba where the shoreline amounts to about 45 km. Water supply to Aqaba region are derived from the Red Sea Basin (5.0 MCM groundwater) and the adjacent Dissi aquifer system (20 MCM). The population of Aqaba region is 150,000 people.

Aqaba area has been declared a special zone as a duty free area in order to attract new investors in trade and industry. This development will increase demand for water for the growing population and future industrial activities. This development will lead to a potentially dramatic rise in water demand, but also wastewater generation. The current water consumption in the region is estimated 25 MCM where about 10 MCM goes to industrial purposes and 10 MCM for municipal purpose. Agriculture, street trees and parks receive only 3 MCM from fresh water and about 4.0 MCM treated wastewater.

Therefore, it is important to reduce seepage from irrigated areas resulting from excess irrigation near the coast of Aqaba. Return flow and excess irrigation water is rich in nutrient. These nutrients will have a negative impact on the sustainability of coral reef in Aqaba. Nutrient such as N and P will enhance the growth of Algae, which reduce sun light penetration to beach bottom, which is essential for the growth of the coral. Further industrial activities will have a negative impact on the coast of Aqaba. The total area is comparatively small, leading to a high concentration of economic activities along the coast and thus competition for space and addition to the competition for water. Also, the planned developments may be in conflict with each other and certainly with any development of tourism designed to exploit the unique marine life of the Gulf: It is, therefore, important to seek an integrated approach to coastal zone management to protect marine life on the Gulf of Aqaba.

The case study offers a unique opportunity to implement the preventive principles of environmental impact assessment, rather than having to study possibly irreversible damage of unplanned development that already occurred.

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