Home / Jordan / Water Infrastructure / Current and Planned Infrastructural Projects

Current and Planned Infrastructural Projects

From the 1950s until 2008, Jordan constructed 28 dams with a total capacity of 368 MCM in order to provide water resources for the growing population.[1] Figure 14 presents an overview of the main dams with their storage capacity[2]:

Figure 14. Dams along rivers and side valleys in Jordan, with their annual storage capacity (MCM/yr). Source: Fanack after Altz-Stamm, A., 2012.
Figure 14. Dams along rivers and side valleys in Jordan, with their annual storage capacity (MCM/yr). Source: Fanack after Altz-Stamm, A., 2012.

In 2013, Jordan also had 30 wastewater treatment plants. Besides the al-Samra plant, these plants all have a relatively small capacity.[3]

The two main projects to increase Jordan’s freshwater supply are the Red Sea-Dead Sea Project and the Disi Aquifer Water Conveyance Project. In addition, projects are underway to improve the effectiveness and quality of wastewater treatment systems in refugee camps. These efforts are described below.

The Disi Water Conveyance Project pipeline, Jordan. Photo: Eddie Gerald.
The Disi Water Conveyance Project pipeline, Jordan. Photo: Eddie Gerald.

The Disi Project transports water to Amman and other Jordanian cities from the Disi Aquifer, which is located in the country’s southeast on the border with Saudi Arabia. While classified as a fossil aquifer, it is actually replenished at an annual rate of about 50 MCM/yr. Construction of the Disi Project began in 2009 and became operational by 2013, at a cost of about $1.1 billion. Since 2013, the Disi water conveyance has transported about 100 MCM/yr to Amman and Aqaba. According to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI), this project is expected to provide Amman with 100 MCM/yr until at least 2022.[4]

The Disi Aquifer is shared with Saudi Arabia, which also extracts water from this resource. While both countries continue to insist that the other country should reduce its extraction rate, there is currently no water-sharing agreement between Jordan and Saudi Arabia concerning Disi (Shared Water Resources).

The Red Sea-Dead Sea Project: Jordan’s only access to the sea is at the Red Sea port of Aqaba.[5] While Aqaba has no immediate need for seawater desalination as it currently gets its water from the Disi Aquifer, the government plans to implement a major desalination and water transfer project here. In 2013, Jordan signed an agreement with Israel and Palestine for the joint implementation of the Red Sea-Dead Sea Project, a regional project to increase water supply to the three countries through seawater desalination and replenish the Dead Sea with the brine from the desalination process.[6]

After the peace treaty in 1994, the implementation of a canal linking the Red Sea and the Dead Sea became the focal point of Israeli-Jordanian cooperation. In February 2015, Jordan and Israel signed an agreement to implement the first phase of the project at a cost of $900 million over a period of three years. This first phase of the project includes the construction of a desalination plant at Aqaba and a 180-km pipeline between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea.[7]

The plant will initially produce around 80 MCM/yr of fresh water, of which 40 MCM/yr will be purchased at cost by Israel for use in the area of Eilat and in the Arava Valley.[8] The rest of the fresh water will be available to the city of Aqaba and reduce its reliance on the Disi Aquifer. As part of the agreement, Israel will sell Jordan an additional 50 MCM/yr of fresh water from Lake Tiberias in the north, which will be transferred for use in Amman.[9]

Figure 15. Red Sea-Dead Sea Project. Source: Fanack after Altz-Stamm, A., 2012.
Figure 15. Red Sea-Dead Sea Project. Source: Fanack after Altz-Stamm, A., 2012.

The pipeline to the Dead Sea will initially transport up to 120 MCM/yr of brine (highly concentrated saline water), a by-product of the desalination process. This will serve to rehabilitate the Dead Sea, which has been shrinking at a rate of 1 m/yr or more for the past 30 years. As the desalination plant in Aqaba expands, up to 2,000 MCM/yr of brine could be pumped to the Dead Sea in the future (Fig. 15).[10]

While advocates of the project praise its regional nature and consider this an innovative solution to save the Dead Sea, critics worry about the implications of mixing the brine of Red Sea water into the Dead Sea. The two water bodies have very different mineral contents, and environmental experts are concerned that the addition of Red Sea brine will alter the composition of Dead Sea water.[11]

The management of water supply and wastewater treatment in refugee camps is another major challenge for the Jordanian government, especially in the north of the country where the majority of the camps are concentrated. The wastewater from these camps needs to be effectively and safely managed, in order to protect the local communities and the groundwater resources over which the camps are built.[12]

To address some of these challenges, the American NGO Mercy Corps with the support of USAID, UNICEF and UNHCR, has invested in a number of water infrastructure projects:[13]


  • Zaatari Refugee Camp: Two new wells and pump stations to serve a refugee population of 120,000. Cost: $450,000.

  • Tabaqet Fahel Well Project: Renovation and expansion, providing an additional 63,000 users with 80 litres per day. Cost: $250,000.

  • Zabdah Reservoir: Renovation project fixing leaks and installing insulation, saving enough to water to provide 27,000 users with 80 litres per day. Cost: $530,000.

  • Abu al-Basal Pipeline: Installed 2.5 km of pipes to extend the water network and address emergency shortages in a refugee-affected area. Cost: $70,000.

  • Spare parts: To enable quick responses to network breaks, reduce the scope of interruptions and enable maintenance, Mercy Corps provides spare parts to the local utility (parts valued at $400,000 as of October 2013).

The King Talal Dam, Jordan. Photo: Nick Fraser.
The King Talal Dam, Jordan. Photo: Nick Fraser.


[1] al-Ansari, N., 2014. ‘Water Demand Management in Jordan’. Engineering, 6(1): 19-26.
[2] Altz-Stamm, A., 2012. ‘Jordan’s Water Resource Challenges and the Prospects for Sustainability’. GIS for Water Resources.
[3] Ministry of Water and Irrigation, 2015. Personal interview.
[4] Mercy Corps, 2014. Tapped Out: Water Scarcity and Refugee Pressure in Jordan.
[5] Mohsen, M.S., 2007. ‘Water strategies and potential of desalination in Jordan’. Desalination, 203: 27-46.
[6] Ministry of Water and Irrigation, 2015. Personal interview.
[7] Reuters, 2015. ‘Jordan, Israel agree $900 million Red Sea-Dead Sea project’. 26 February 2015.
[8] Ministry of Water and Irrigation, 2015. Personal interview.
[9] Reuters, 2015. ‘Jordan, Israel agree $900 million Red Sea-Dead Sea project’. 26 February 2015.
[10] Ministry of Water and Irrigation, 2015. Personal interview.
[11] Mohsen, M.S., 2007. ‘Water strategies and potential of desalination in Jordan’. Desalination, 203: 27-46.
[12] Mercy Corps, 2014. Tapped Out: Water Scarcity and Refugee Pressure in Jordan.
[13] Ibid.