(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Increasing demand for water and a growing population have pushed water consumption in Jordan beyond sustainable limits, leading to over-use of groundwater resources, an international report warned.
The Fourth World Water Development Report (WWDR), released on Monday in France, projected that by 2022, Jordan's population may exceed 7.8 million, raising water demand to 1,673 million cubic metres (mcm), and pushing the water deficit from the current 457mcm to 659mcm within a decade.
The report, which cited Jordan as a case study, said that a significant increase in population has led to a sharp decrease in per capita water availability, which dropped from 3,600 cubic metres in 1946 to 145 cubic metres in 2008.
Jordan's case study, which was prepared by UNESCO and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, provides an overview of the situation of water resources in Jordan, in addition to water quality challenges and the impact of climate change on water resources.
UNESCO Representative in Jordan Anna Paolini said that Jordan's case study at the WWDR raises international awareness about the water situation in the Kingdom.
She added that rainfall distribution and patterns, the impact of climate change and the lack of renewable water resources make Jordan one of the most water-deprived countries in the world.
"Having this window [Jordan's case study] to present the Jordanian case to the world I think is a good opportunity," Paolini said on Monday during a press meeting.
She highlighted that Jordan and Morocco are the only Arab countries cited as case studies by the report, which the United Nations releases every three years in conjunction with the World Water Forum, which opened on Monday in Marseilles, France.
The report concluded that since the Kingdom is among the poorest countries in the world in terms of water resources, priority should be given to structural investments that help develop more of its water potential.
It also indicated that climate change may further reduce water availability.
Analyses of climate change scenarios during the 21st century indicate that the country will experience more frequent droughts as a consequence of year-round increases in temperature, which may be as high as 3C in winter and 4.5C in summer by the end of the century. The same climate change simulations show little or no change in precipitation to offset these big increases in temperature, according to the report.
The report recommended that in order to adequately address the challenge of an increasing water deficit, both supply-side and demand-side measures are required.
These measures include better water management, enhancing water use efficiency, raising awareness to change water consumption patterns, redefining water allocation priorities such as limiting or reducing agricultural water use, and developing technologies for use of nonconventional water resources, such as wastewater recycling.
The report underscored that reversing the trend of water quality degradation is important in order to protect public health, while ensuring the sustainability of ecosystems and protecting scarce water resources.
The WWDR is a comprehensive review that gives an overall picture of the state of the world's freshwater resources and aims to provide decision makers with the tools to implement sustainable use of water, according to the United Nations.