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Title: TOWARDS RATIONAL WATER MANAGEMENT AND UTILIZATION OF WATER RESOURCES IN ARID ZONES: APPLICATION TO THE INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT OF WATER RESOURCES OF VARIOUS QUALITIES IN THE JORDAN RIFT VALLEY

Author: J. Guttman, H. Hoetzl, J. Bensabat, L. Wolf, T. Milgrom

Year: 2009

Publisher: European Water Resources Association (EWRA)

Description:

Geologically, the JRV is an extensive geo-tectonic feature bordered by a deepseated fault system that creates an elongated and narrow basin and acting as a drainage basin for groundwater originating both from the eastern and the western mountain aquifers that border the Rift basin as well as ephemeral streams and floods generated in these mountains. In this system, freshwater entering the aquifer from the outcrops in the Western and Eastern edges reaches the valley and mixes with the local saline water bodies. The management of the JRV water resources is rather complex, as saline water bodies and fresh water bodies coexist in the aquifers with a very delicate equilibrium between them. Inadequate exploitation of the fresh water sources may induce the migration of the saline water bodies and a rise in the salinity of the freshwater wells. On the other hand if the fresh water entering the aquifer is not captured before it mixes with the saline water bodies, substantial amount of fresh water that could be otherwise utilized for water supply could be lost. The main economic activity in this region is agriculture and its development critically depends on the availability of water for irrigation. The region already suffers from water scarcity and sustainability of the water resources utilization seems impossible under the actual demand situation. The future development depends on reliability of the water supply (quantities and
qualities). In additional, the area is geographical isolation from areas with more favourable hydrologic conditions or large desalination centres (along the Mediterranean coast). Therefore, the development in this area primary depends on the local water sources. The water policy is to shift fresh water form agricultural uses to domestic purposes as a result of urban/rural development.  The only way to reach sustainability is by developing the available sources (fresh, brackish and sewage) and integrating their utilization. The ever increasing demand for freshwater and to some extent brackish water requires proper management tools and by combining utilization of the freshwater and saline water sources. Proper allocation of the water resources within a wider frame of integrated water resources management (IWRM) which considers that waters of different qualities are allocated to a variety of sectors allows the optimization of the water exploitation scheme on one hand and the preservation of the aquifers on the other. In this study we regard all the existing waters sources (freshwater, brackish, saline water and effluent) as valuable source of water, which can greatly increase the overall yield. A judicious application of water treatment technologies, water mixing approaches and appropriate agricultural activities, capable of using freshwater, brackish water, treated effluent and mixtures of them for the irrigation of properly chosen crops.