Options for a More Sustainable Water Management in the Lower Jordan Valley
The Lower Jordan Valley is usually regarded as a region with severe water scarcity, but this is not the case. The per capita availability of water is much above the average of the Middle East, but it is regionally unevenly distributed. About 94 per cent of all usable water is used for agriculture; about 2/3 of that has drinking water quality. On the other hand, 44,000 people in the southeast of the valley do not have sufficient local drinking quality water supply to meet the basic domestic demand. Scenario calculations show that a more sustainable water management in the region is possible if water allocation priorities are redefined. The first priority must be given to human and social needs for drinking water, to domestic/urban needs, and to water-efficient income generation activities. Agriculture should be limited to water that is not needed in other sectors. Through such a new management regime, the region could grow to a population of 1 million while in the long run maintaining current levels of agriculture. Water allocation for nature and ecosystems remains a controversial issue. The restoration of a ‘more sustainable’ water regime of the Jordan River requires cooperation from the four upstream water users (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria). The issue that needs to be resolved is if nature and ecosystems are regarded legitimate water users with an inherent natural right, and whether the countries that divert the water from the upper Jordan River system are willing to reallocate water currently used to meet their domestic/urban and agriculture needs or are willing to pay for water from alternative sources.
Keywordswater balance supply usage allocation scenario usage priority
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