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As Samra Waste Water Treatment Plant

August 23, 2008

Today the new Samra WWTP was officially opened, after about five years in the works. It is notable that the announcement in the press says that the capacity of the plant is 276000 cubic meters per day (about 100 million cubic meters per year), whereas it was initially announced that the capacity would be 530000 cubic meters per day. There has been no explanation of this discrepancy.

The Samra WWTP is designed to treat domestic waste water emanation from the Zerqa river basin, which happens to include the country’s two most populated cities. Essentially, anybody who flushes his toilet in Amman or in Zerqa contributes to the load at Samra WWTP.

Moreover, the Zerqa River feeds into the 70 million cubic meters of water stored in the King Talal Dam. Therefore, any pollution in the river will lead to pollution in the dam, which in turn may affect the quality of agricultural produce in the Jordan Valley, which is partially irrigated from its waters. While there is little evidence of real deterioration of soil quality from irrigation using KTD water, there tends to be a psychological aversion to consuming this produce. Concern over microbiological contamination has lead to restrictions on the use of the treated wastewater. Typically, green vegetables are not irrigated with this water, while fruit trees are. Also, groundwater in the area of the plant has witnessed serious deterioration.

Limited water resources mean that treated waste water is considered to be a “non-conventional resource” in the Jordanian national water master plan.

The original Samra WWTP was built in 1985 with a capacity of about 67000 cubic meters per day. The plant quickly became obsolete, rendering its output water below standards and menacing water supplies, public health and agriculture in the Jordan Valley (more history here).

The new plant promises a lot, from some energy self sufficiency to odor control to promises of real-time transmission of water and air quality data. It is run by a private consortium under a BOT agreement. Hopefully, we will see a noticeable improvement in the water and air quality in Zerqa and the Zerqa River basin.

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