Jordan Rift Valley- Water
 Chapter 1 The Jordan Rift Valley
2. Water
 Jordan Rift Valley- Water
 Jordan Rift Valley- Water
 Jordan Rift Valley- Water
  The Jordan River Basin is the major source of surface water for Jordan and Israel. The total mean annual runoff of the Jordan River and its tributaries is estimated at approximately 1.3 billion cubic meters per annum. Total average utilization by the riparian countries comes to approximately 75%. An estimated average 25% flows into the Dead Sea during the winter months unutilized.

Jordan’s use is concentrated primarily in summer months, during which water is transferred via the King Abdallah Canal down the Eastern Rift Valley to the Dead Sea. Israel pumps its water allocations from the Yarmouk. In order to attain optimal utilization of Yarmouk waters, storage facilities which capture winter waters for summer use are required.

The primary tributary streams to the Jordan originate south of the Yarmouk, on the eastern side. Dams for storage of winter flood waters have been erected on most of these streams. Dams have been built in the Beit Shean Valley as well to capture the winter flow from various springs. Several projects designed to capture the winter overflow water from the Yarmouk Rivers have been proposed in the past.

Water is a scarce resource for both Israel and Jordan. Both countries face water shortages which require immediate implementation of effective water management. It is estimated that by the year 2040 Jordan and Israels combined water deficit will reach almost 3000 cubic meters per year.

Israels water strategy for the Jordan Valley calls for integrated management of water resources in the Galilee and Beit She’an areas. This includes: intercepting wastewater currently discharged into the Sea of Galilee for treatment in a wastewater treatment plant at Ein HaNatziv for reuse in agriculture in the Beit Shean Valley; encouraging intensive aquaculture in the Beit Shean Valley; desalination of saline spring water in the Beit Shean Valley (see project 2.3 below).

Water projects in the JRV focus on the existing water supply from the Yarmouk and Jordan River, demand management and water reclamation. The short-term water projects outlined in the JRV Master Plan focus on two major areas: storage and conveyance of surface water from the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers and development of water systems in the Southern Ghors. Other Jordanian projects include upgrading conveyance systems and treating wastewater currently disposed in the Zarqa River.

 Jordan Rift Valley- Water

 Combined Water Balance for Jordan and Israel Million Cubic Meters per Annum

While the quantity and quality of water for agricultural use will increase significantly in the short and medium term from these projects, it is expected that the overall share of the agriculture sector in the water is expected to decline. Increases beyond those projected will be marginal and will be dependent on the ability to reclaim wastewater and extract ground water in the Arava/Wadi Araba region. Consequently, improved agricultural performance will depend primarily on more efficient water use.

The current joint Israeli/Jordanian strategy views water as a shared resource and focuses on collaborative development towards fulfillment of objectives set out in the Treaty of Peace; i.e. collaboration in water storage projects, implementation of anti-pollution measures to safeguard the quality of Jordan and Yarmouk River and development of a plan to identify additional sources of water for the Kingdom of Jordan. The primary impact of this collaboration will be to increase the share of water resources available to Jordan by significantly reducing the flow of floodwater into the Dead Sea.

 Jordan Rift Valley- Water
 Jordan Rift Valley- Water
Jordan Valley Water Projects
  2.1. The Institutional Framework for Water Management in Israel and Jordan

Israels water system is managed and administered by the Water Commission. The Water Commission operates under the Ministry for National Infrastructure. All planning issues are currently coordinated by the Planning Division of the Water Commission. Consulting is commonly tendered to private sector consultants. Water supply operations are conducted by Mekoroth, the national water company and private water companies.

In Jordan the principal government organizations responsible for water management in the JRV are the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) and Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ), both operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI). The JVA was created following the enactment of the Jordan Valley Development Law in 1977 and is empowered to assume direct responsibility for planning, designing and constructing all economic and social development projects in the Jordan Valley. WAJ was created in 1983 and was given responsibility for all water matters in Jordan with the exception of irrigation projects under the jurisdiction of the JVA. MWI assumes full responsibility for water policy and development planning, although implementation is still handled by the JVA and WAJ.

2.2. Integrated Program of Water Development in the Jordan Valley in Israel

This project is an Israeli initiative which aims at designing a water treatment system that efficiently manages water resources in the Galilee-Beit Shean region and complies with all the requirements stipulated in the Treaty of Peace for provision of water to Jordan. It is comprehensive in scope and addresses the following needs:

  • Restoration of water quality flowing into the Jordan River;
  • Supply of fresh drinking water from Israel to the Kingdom of Jordan;
  • Provide capability to maintain current water use productivity in the Beit Shean Valley, given that reduced amounts of water will be availfor extraction from the Jordan River.

All wastewater will be collected, conveyed and reclaimed for re-use in the Beit Shean Valley, as part of an indivisible package. Allocation to Jordan will derive from saline springs in the Beit-Shean area and from the Sea of Galilee saline carrier.

The proposed project consists of the following elements:

  1. Restoration of Jordan River water quality through the construction of a single central wastewater treatment system to serve all local jurisdictions in the Beit Shean/Galilee region. A wastewater treatment plant will be constructed at Ein HaNatziv to process wastewater from the various municipalities and regional councils.
  2. Program of phased aquaculture intensification in the Beit Shean Valley to improve efficiency of resource use and production activities;
  3. Provision of 50 MCM/yr desalinated water to Jordan from the following sources:

Beit She’an Valley spring water as feed for desalination –

10 MCM/year


Beit She’an spring water conserved from shift to intensified aquaculture

20 MCM/year


Desalination of the Sea of Galilee saline carrier water –

20 MCM/year


50 MCM/year


This project component includes the construction of a central integrated desalination facility in the Beit Shean Valley, east of the Jordan River, to treat saline water originating from the saline water carrier and springs and reservoirs in the Beit Shean Valley.

Implementation of the plan will eliminate all the sources of pollution from the west currently contaminating the Jordan River and its tributaries. It will also centralize responsibility for physical plants, operations, maintenance and supervision regarding all contributing pollutants. This will maximize the professional and efficient handling of wastewater and effluents. Reuse of treated effluents for agriculture will be administered by the regional water association for the Beit Shean Valley.

a. Centralized Water Collection and Treatment for the Galilee and Beit She’an Valley

Collection and Conveyance

Wastewater originating in the Tiberias municipality, the Poriah region and the Jordan Valley Regional Council jurisdictions will be collected at Beitaniya, located at -200 elevation. At this site, a pre-treatment system for conveying wastewater as well as a pumping station to propel the wastewater will be constructed. Facilities for rough and refined filtration, a covered regulation unit with a capacity of 7000 CM, and a biofilter to treat emissions generated from the regulation unit will be established. A main pumping station for 1300 cubic meters per hour and a total head of 45-50 meters. Provisions are being made for a supply of 23,000 cubic meters daily.

From Beitaniya the wastewater will be conveyed via pipeline 30 km from this site to the Ein HaNatziv facility, which is also situated at an elevation of -200. The pipeline will be 24 inches in diameter and made of PVC. At the Ein HaNatziv site, wastewater from Beit Shean, Tiberias, the Jordan Valley, the Beit Shean Valley and Gilboa will be treated. At the halfway point between the two sites, an additional pumping station will be constructed. Its purpose will be to increase pressure and process the raw wastewater from four northern settlements in the Beit Shean Regional Council district.

The Wastewater Treatment Plant at Ein HaNatziv

The envisage treatment plant at Ein HaNatziv site will produce 10 MCM/yr treated effluent for irrigation. It will be constructed as an activated sludge plant, employing state-of-the-art technology. Primary treatment will include fine Gmm screening, grit removal and primary sedimentation. The activated sludge will be aerated by controlled fine bubbles diffusers. The sludge will be fully digested in an anaerobic reactor system and will be dehydrated by centrifuges. The end product effluent will be of high quality water for irrigation and the sludge will be spread or added to the land as a soil conditioner and fertilizer.

A modular facility that with the capacity to treat 6 tons/day, 13 tons/day, and 19.5 tons/day is planned. The treatment plant will operate at full capacity at a population level equivalent to 250,000 people. Treated effluent will be diverted to storage dams or emptied to various regional drainage carriers.

Utilization and Re-use of the Treated Wastewater

Utilization of treated water will be year round with minimization of initiated spillovers. End-users and crops will be specified, according to fit between water quality and crop requirements. Reclaimed wastewater conveyance will be separated from conveyance systems to fish ponds. Similarly, utilization and disposal systems will be independent of each other. The impact of irrigation with treated wastewater on soil composition and crops will be monitored. If it becomes necessary to release treated wastewater into water systems, released water will be of a quality compatible with that flowing in the streams into which it is released;

The re-use system will provide water for the irrigation of citrus groves in the southern Beit Shean valley region, and serve as a substitute for Jordan River water in the Shifaa region for industrial field and other crops.

b. Intensification of Aquaculture

The part of the program is designed to optimize water conservation in the Beit Shean Valley by converting extensive aquaculture operations to intensive systems. The process of intensification will enable the growth and maintenance of productive potential for aquaculture in the Jordan River region, despite the substantial projected decline in the volume of water flowing in the Jordan River and extracted from it The program is designed to meet the water needs of fish farmers under the assumption that yields will increase at an average rate of 10% per annum. Water resources conserved as a result of this program will be feed for the desalination plant, which after treatment will be provided to Jordan.

Intensification facilities are based on state-of-the-art industrial technologies, including immersion systems, biological screening and filtration, intensive water recycling, efficient oxygen dissolution, and completely automated stabilization and control systems. The process will be phased in order to optimize benefits from the learning curve. During the preliminary phases alternative water resources will be channeled into the Beit Shean Valley, as necessitated by the pace of implementation.

c. Desalination of Saline Water and Conveyance to Jordan >

The supply of 50 MCM per annum of desalinated drinking water to the Kingdom of Jordan is stipulated as part of the agreement between the two countries. 30 MCM/yr would be drawn from Beit Shean springs and reservoirs while the remaining 20 MCM/yr will originate from the Sea of Galilee saline water carrier. A central integrated desalination facility will be constructed east of the Jordan River, for the treatment of saline water from carrier and springs.

Conveyance system from springs to the desalination plant

Existing canals carrying water from the highest level springs will continue current operations. Approximately 24 MCM will be drawn from these springs to the central regulation facilities prior to desalination. Similarly, Pipelines conveying water originating from the middle level springs will continue current operations. From them approximately 6 MCM will be diverted to the central system and from there to the desalination plant.

Conveyance system from the saline water carrier

Water from the saline carrier (approximately 20 MCM) will be channeled south along the pressure line from the Alumot Dam to the regional regulation facility and from there to the desalination plant. The central regulation facility, which will be located at a site above the lower valley junction (at -135 elevation) will include new storage facilities for 50,000 CM. This storage facility will be sealed, including floating cover to avoid quality degeneration prior to the required pre-treatment preceding desalination.

The Desalination Plant

Salinity of the feed water that will be diverted to the desalination facility is expected to be 1,500 mi/liter chlorides. The facility will produce effluent for uninhibited usage at a volume of 50 MCM annually as specified in the agreement.

d. Costs

The estimated total project cost comes to $150 million. A detailed breakdown of projected project costs is presented below. Costs include a 20% allocation for contingencies and engineering.

Supply of water to Jordan: Costs include the conveyance of 50 MCM per year to the Kingdom of Jordan and the compensation to aquaculture operations in the Beit Shean Valley for 30 MCM spring water released annually for this purpose. This cost represents the opportunity cost of aquacultural intensification.


Cost (in million
US dollars)*

Upper and lower level springs


Jordan River agricultural settlements


Conveyance lines and pumping stations


Desalination plant


Conveyance from saline carrier




* Cost estimates as of the end of 1996.

Restoration of Water Quality of the Jordan River: Project components for this objective include centralized collection and treatment of pollutants on a trans-jurisdictional regional scale, including sewage and the saline carrier.


Cost (in million US dollars)*

Conveyance lines and pumping stations


Centralized treatment plant at Ein HaNatziv


Storage & utilization for reclaimed effluent




* Cost estimates as of the end of 1996.

Part of these costs will be recovered from regional sources ("users and abusers") on the basis of the relevant alternative costs for "optimal" private alternatives in each sub-region rather than on the basis of an alternative optimal regional program.

Additional costs will be covered by the State of Israel, as part of its commitment to implement the Treaty of Peace with Jordan. The project, or parts of it, can be financed by a combination of public and private sector capital. The contractor will administer the project in its entirety, including all financial and professional aspects both during the construction and operational stages.

Summary Costs and Benefits from the Proposed Project:

The following table summarizes projected costs and benefits to be derived from the proposed water management plan. It is estimated that the average unit cost of water supplied through this plan will come to approximately $0.40.

Summary of Major Project Components and Characteristics

  Estimated Invest-
(million US $)*
Amount of Treated Water
Amount of Water Supplied to Jordan
Estimated cost of water
($ per CM)*

sification of aquaculture operations

32 30 20 0.09

Supply of water from the saline carrier and desa-
lination plant

78.5 20 20 0.28











* Cost estimates as of the end of 1996.
** weighted average.

2.3. Adassiya Diversion Dam on the Yarmouk River

The flow of the Yarmouk River, forming part of the boundary between Israel and Jordan, has been partially diverted at Adassiya to the King Abdullah Canal (KAC), the main Jordanian water conveyance system, via a drop inlet and tunnel. In the Peace Treaty between the two countries, both parties agreed to cooperate in the building of a diversion dam on the Yarmouk River directly downstream of the existing diversion point at Adassiya, in order to improve the efficiency of flow diversion and enable both countries to abstract their respective water allocations under the Treaty.

The combined diversion and storage dam will be located on the Yarmouk River. It will have a 8 MCM storage capacity and will yield approximately 14 MCM/yr. Water from the dam will be conveyed to the King Abdullah Canal.

An estimate of the investment required for the building of such a dam is US$ 26 million. Operation and maintenance costs are estimated at $300,000 annually. The project will be implemented within a period of about three years. It is rank as a top priority project in the JRV Master Plan.

2.4. Wadi Araba/Arava Hydrogeological Investigation

Groundwater resources in the Wadi Araba/Arava represent the major developable water source in this region. Current renewable groundwater resources in the Wadi Araba have been estimated at 19 MCM/yr. Jordan currently abstracts 15 MCM/yr. for agricultural and industrial uses, while Israel abstracts an additional 5 MCM/yr. from the Jordanian side. Israel intends to develop a further 10 MCM/yr. as part of the Treaty allocation. These plans are contingent on their hydrogeological feasibility.

Since precipitation and run-off varies greatly and is highly unpredictable, the importance of groundwater resources stored in individual aquifers cannot be overstated. The large numbers of springs contributing to the base flows in the wadis flowing to the Dead Sea and Arava/Araba Valley are derived from groundwater.

The major aquifers in the area between the Dead and Red Seas are:

Shallow Aquifer Hydraulic Complex: comprising Pleistocene sedimentary and alluvial deposits of the Quaternary age which receive localized annual recharge from wadi flows. The extent to which this aquifer is recharged from lower aquifers has not been determined and may be a function of faulting and fracturing. The majority of the wells and watering holes in the JRV project area tap this aquifer system. Geophysical surveys conducted in the 1980s indicate that water deposits could exceed 400 meters. Recent work in the Arava on the western side of the wadi showed that the deposits could be up to 550 meters in depth.

Cretaceous Hydraulic Complex: The principal aquifer system in the area, it is recharged by infiltration from rainfall with the catchment of the wadis flowing through the area from east to west. The system is divided into an upper and lower group, each bearing different aquifer characteristics. The aquifer has generally been developed in the Arava Valley for irrigation and water supply schemes.

Deep Sandstone Aquifer Hydraulic Complex: This is generally at depth, with minor recharge from the project area. Most recharge originates in north-western Saudi Arabia. The areas on the eastern shores of the Dead sea and the Northern Araba Valley are connected hydraulically to the Disi Mudawwara area. The aquifer plays an important role with base-flow contributions to the Dead Sea, particularly on the eastern shores. Leakage from this aquifer both laterally and vertically upwards may occur in the northern Araba Valley and possibly provides a source of recharge for the other two aquifers. Springs along the eastern shores of the Dead Sea may originate from this source.

Development of this aquifer at Disi-Mudawara for water supply for Amman is presently under consideration by the Jordanian government. However, given the depth of the aquifer, the potential for development at present is limited. Currently, the total existing abstraction, including that from Saudi Arabia, exceeds the safe yield of the aquifer and this source is generally considered as unreplenishible.

a. Project Elements

This joint Israeli-Jordanian project is designed to identify the locations and potential yields from deep aquifers in the Wadi Araba/Arava to assess the feasibility of additional abstractions. It consists of drilling eight exploratory wells at a depth of 1000 meters. Water abstracted will be delivered to the Wadi Araba in Jordan and Nahal Arava in Israel and will be primarily used for agriculture.

b. Estimated Costs

Estimated cost of the study comes to $10 million. The estimated unit cost of water (including operation and maintenance costs for the drilling operation) comes to less than $ 0.30 per cubic meter. This cost is likely to be lower than the cost of stored flash flood waters in the region. It is a short term project which can be completed within two years. Draft Terms of Reference have been prepared.

2.5. Joint Israeli-Jordanian Water Plant on the Dead Sea

This project represents a joint venture between Jordans Arab Potash Company and Israels Dead Sea Works. Its primary benefits are limited to these two concerns and it is included in the JRV Master Plan.

On the southern shores of the Dead Sea, Jordan and Israel have set up enterprises to produce and sell potassium, salt, bromine, magnesium and medicinal salts. The increasing water requirements of the industrial, agricultural and tourism ventures in the southern Rift Valley and Dead Sea are rapidly exhausting the water resources available in the area. Brackish water from the Jordan River can be harnessed and conveyed to the southern end of the Dead Sea for use by the mineral industries. This water would be pumped out of the river before entering the Dead Sea, from which point it would be pumped to the industrial enterprises.

In order to implement this project, the Jordanian Arab Potash Company and the Israeli Dead Sea Works have set up a jointly owned company. 30 million cubic meters per annum can be supplied to the industries through this project. It can be set up within three years at an estimated cost of $100 million.