Jordan River

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Jordan River


Tala Qtaishat

Workbook Assignment for Rangeland Resources Watershed Management Course, Spring 2008


North Dakota State University




Executive Summary:

The Jordan River flows south from the Sea of Galilee 53 km to the Dead Sea. The Jordan River runs along the border between Jordan and Israel, on both sides there are natural and cultural sites. The natural, cultural, and religious highlights are:

• The lowest river in the world flowing through the narrowest areas of the Great Rift Valley to the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea.

• Important wetland habitat supporting various vegetation and fauna.

• Old evidence and Islamic references associating the river to the prophets Moses and Elijah, the baptism of Christ, and the companions of the prophet Mohammed.


The Jordan River has a long history of human habitation and cultural and religious values. For thousands of years people have used the river and surrounding land for agricultural and communal purposes. Many sites have religious and historic values. Maintaining these religious sites is concern of managers. The management of the Jordan River involves various processes because of its political problems. The Jordan River is controlled by the government of Jordan and other research centers. Lands bounded by the river are mixed between public lands (owned by the government) and private lands (owned by the people).

With the excessive richness of the natural and cultural wealth of the river system, threats were present such as dryness, pollution, and inappropriate development. Of the 1.3 billion cubic meters of water that would naturally flow down the Jordan River to the Dead Sea annually, more then 90% of this water is presently diverted for other purposes. Residents and tourists have little direct access to the river due to military restrictions.

There are many threats to the Jordan River, such as shrinkage of the river and its habitat and pollution from industry around the system. There has been an agreement to prevent the flow of wastewater to the Jordan River and the use of the recycled and brackish water to renew the Jordan River flows. What makes the situation worse for the Jordan River is that not only has the river mostly dried up, it also has turned into a sewage dumping ground. The lower part of the Jordan River has turned into a sewage canal.

Threats and challenges facing the Jordan River include:

• Excessive water change and dam building resulting in sections of the river drying.

• The capture of the winter flood waters of the Jordan River and its tributaries negatively impacting the habitat of the upper banks of the river, and

• Untreated sewage discharge into the river without the return of extensive quantities of healthy water to the river.


The Jordan River Valley attracts tourism and is a good source for the country’s economy. The irony is that despite the valley’s potential to attract tourism and have its residents benefit from the resulting revenue, the residents of the valley are amongst the poorest in their respective countries.

Due to the climate conditions, the increasing population, and with the economic problems of the country in terms of irrigated agriculture to satisfy the needs of the growing population has resulted in a shortage in the water levels. The Jordan River basin in Jordan constitutes the wettest area in Jordan and the economic development is the highest in the country. Irrigated agriculture represents the main economic activity in terms of population employed and economic return. If the issues of dryness and pollution continue in the system, the country will have a severe economic problem from the lack of available clean water for the human resources.


1. Bounding the System: Describing the Present

The Jordan River Valley is a part of the 7,200-kilometer Great Rift Valley (GRV) which is geographically the only one of its kind. The Jordan River Valley is situated in the lowest area on earth as well as in one of the narrowest parts of the GRV. Its position has given it a specific importance from both cultural and religious prospectives. It was the bridge between Asia, Africa, and Europe. The growing cultural activities of the Jordan River Valley over the ages guarantee that it is a window into the history of the world, from natural, religious and cultural aspects. Precipitation from Mount Hermon is currently the main source of waters for the Jordan River. Rain and melting snow from the mountain seep into the rock and form underground reservoirs that feed the river. The main issues that concern the people are the dryness of the river and how it is being threatened by waste and pollution. Many organizations perform projects to help the river from vanishing; more explanations about the threats and what needs to ensure the stability of the Jordan River occurs in the following sections. The Jordan River Valley is a good point to attract tourism and it is a good source for the economy of Jordan. The irony is that, despite the valley’s potential to attract tourism and have its residents benefit from the resulting revenue, the residents of the valley are amongst the poorest in their respective countries.


1.1 The River and its Issues

The Jordan River is a good example of how to identify structures and processes that influence resilience. The Jordan River is the only river that runs in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is 320 km long and that starts where the Hasbani River of Lebanon and Banias River from Syria join. These Sea of Galilee is part of the Jordan River system, and the Yarmuk River of Syria is an important tributary further downstream. The Jordan River valley dates back to 10,000 BC, unlike the other parts of the hills and desert which dates to 400,000 BC.

The Jordan River flows between Jordan and Israel and into the Dead Sea. Due to the peace agreement, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan shares the river with Israel. Both countries have an internationally -approved formula for sharing water of the Jordan River waters. It is considered to be one of the most sacred rivers in the world (Figure 1.1).


Image:fig1.1.jpg

Figure ‎1.1: The Jordan River runs along [11].


Israel began operating a dam that diverts water from the Sea of Galilee (the major Jordan River water source) in order to stabilize water flow and provide water to the region. In modern times, more than 70% of the water is used for human purposes, and the flow is reduced. The high evaporation rate of the Dead Sea is a reason the river shrinks. All the shallow waters of the southern end of the sea have been drained in modern times and are now salt flats. Dryness and evaporation of the river are the major issues of the system, and management is trying to help reduce the chances for the river to vanish.

The Jordan River is bounded upstream by the Sea of Galilee and downstream by the Dead Sea, and Yarmouk River and Jabbok River from the east side. The seas provide a way of bounding the river system for analysis, from an ecological control point. Agriculture consumes the majority of all water in the Jordan River. Agriculture and irrigation are the cause of considerable loads of salts, nutrients, and pesticides in the surface. More economic growth and growing populations also increase the need for water from the Sea of Galilee to flow into the Jordan River. Therefore, the Jordan River is expected to carry even less water in the future.


Image:fig1.2.jpg Figure ‎1.2: Social- ecological regulation [6].


Changes in water uses require updating legal and institutional systems. Also, quantitative and qualitative changes have been accentuated by recurrent weather changes such as drought. “Changes in water uses include: the rise of consumption due to urbanization, industrialization, and tourism; increase of the use of low quality water for irrigation; the increase in pollutants discharge; and deterioration of surface and under ground water quality. In 1995, the ministry of water and irrigation made an order of priority for water allocation (first urban use then industry and tourism and finally agriculture [3].” The central issue of the River is the decreasing level of water in system.

Due to the weather, the time span to examine the system by the management companies is open; it can be done all year long. Most of the area in Jordan receives less than 12 centimeters of rain a year. On the other hand, precipitation increases to around 30 to 50 or more centimeters per year. Due to this, more analysis should be worked on to stop the drying of the river.

Building canals was a goal for all governments around the Jordan River Valley. The progress of building canals has been achieved in the last years, but with the 1967 war, more people started immigrating to Jordan and more pressure was on the Jordan River. In the 1980s, Jordan started reusing wastewater for agricultural purposes, so it can increase the water demand. Many wastewater treatments plants were built to treat the sewage of the water in the cities. Treated wastewater used for irrigation increased and reached about 60/yr MCM.

“To date four policies on Water Utility, Irrigation Water, Groundwater Management and Wastewater Management have been developed. The policies clearly emphasize the sustainable use of the country’s scarce natural water resources, in line with a continuous improvement in living conditions for the country’s population, as the outstanding development goal for the water sector of Jordan. It expresses the need to reinforce the role of the different water actors and stakeholders in water conservation, and increase private sector participation in providing services for infrastructure development in order to make the water sector in Jordan more dynamic, allow access to new source of financing, and assist in realizing water projects without constraining Jordan’s borrowing capacity [5]”.

Present management challenges include how to clean the system, how to manage the water that flows to the river, and how to treat the wastewater. In the Jordan Valley, between Lake Tiberias and the Dead Sea, the Jordan River has carved a deep gorge called the Zor, which is flanked by the terraces of the Ghor on either side. Rain falls in the north part of the Jordan River from October to May, with the heaviest rainfall occurring during the winter. In the winter, the streams that feed the Jordan River become very full, while in the summer, they dry up. In order to use the waters in the system effectively, it is necessary to provide means to collect and store water during the winter for use during the summer time. Yarmouk and Jordan River waters that are not diverted or stored eventually flow into the Dead Sea and mix with its salty waters. In addition to the climatic issues, another challenge is keeping the Jordan River away from any political problems. This poses a great challenge to stakeholders and politicians throughout the Jordan River Valley.


1.2 The River and its People

The Jordan River is bounded upstream by the Sea of Galilee and downstream by the Dead Sea, and the Yarmouk and the Jabbok rivers from the east side. It is situated in the lowest area on Earth as well as in one of the narrowest parts of the great river valley. The developing cultural activities of the Jordan River Valley over the ages ensure that it is a great resource into the history of these people, from both a natural and a cultural point of view. The river is a life source for the valley, both in terms of the fresh water that it has provided, and in terms of its representation in many cultures as a spiritual element.

The Lower Jordan River Valley has a rich heritage across a range of successive historical periods:

• The pre-historical sites representing the emerging changes from hunter-gatherers to early farmers with the domestication of wild grains and animals;

• The early urban settlements and the Biblical Period;

• The Greco-roman period with the parallel Nabataean influences;

• The Christian and Byzantine periods;

• The early Arab/Muslim period, including Crusader influences; and

• The later Arab/Muslim period including the Ottoman Empire. [15]


The significance of the Jordan River Valley is the natural, cultural, and economical values of the system. It can be summed up as the shared cultural landscape of the Jordan River Valley.

The Jordan River is an important role in the religious point of view and cultural point of view of Christians. The Jordan River that runs out of the Sea of Galilee is a holy river where it is considered to be the place where Jesus was baptized. The amount of water of the river has been decreasing over the years, due to the mistreatment of fresh water from the Sea of Galilee and the Yarmuk River.


1.3 The River and Politics

The issue of the Jordan River provides an example of how to begin assessing issues of resilience. Assessment should begin with identifying key resource issues, and describing the relevant geographical boundaries. The River has a long history and was the focus for many wars and political changes over the years. Water from the River has been an issue in all of the wars that happened in the area surrounding it, which political party would be responsible for controlling the water. In the 19th century, many people started immigrating to Jordan from Chech, Cirassis, and Palestine and other countries for political reasons. These people settled mainly near the Jordan River. The gradual growth of the population has increased the demand for agricultural land. The 20th century has faced many political events as well and an increase of the population occurred. In the 1930s, Jordan started working on its economic aspects. Due to politics and economic problems, many projects were not built regarding management of Jordan River water in that time period. There have been many plans to develop the Jordan River Basin system. In 1953 the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and Syria agreed to the construction of a hydroelectric dam that would create a storage basin on the Yarmouk River at Maqarin, and to the construction of a weir downstream at Adasiya, that would direct water into the East Ghor Canal for irrigation of the Jordan River Valley.

The current population of Jordan is about 5 millions inhabitants; more than 70% of them are concentrated on the Jordan River at the cities of Amman, Zarqa, Irbid, Mafraq, Jerash and Ajloun. The agricultural activity consuming more than 70% of the total water resources in Jordan is also concentrated in the Jordan River basin. “The irrigated area in the Jordan valley is about 24 600 ha and it is about 52 000 ha in the highlands. Most of the irrigated area of the highlands is within the Jordan River basin. The irrigated agriculture represents the main economic activity in terms of population employed and economic return [3]”.

The Jordan River is used by more than one country and the pressure on it increases annually. Jordan uses 27%, Israel & Palestine use 50%, Syria 21% and Lebanon uses the remaining 2%. In the 10 years since the Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan, there has been no treatment strategy launched and there has been no cooperation on protected areas or the cultural heritage of the Jordan River Valley.

“The Jordan River is dying and the Jordanian and Israeli governments are failing to come to its aid, according to local officials and environmentalists from both sides of the revered river, scene of many events of Biblical history. [12]” The international community needs to make saving the river a priority. With the increasing population and with the financial problems the governments face, they are not finding the right sources to help the river from vanishing. The usage of the river has increased in recent years, and due to this, the management of the resources needs to be done because it is the only source of water in Jordan. The surface water resources have developed to a large extent to be used for irrigation while undeveloped water resources are limited and their exploitation expensive.


1.4 Natural Habitats and Water Resources

The main source of the waters of the Jordan River is precipitation from Mount Hermon. Rain and melting snow from the mountain seeps into the rock and forms underground reservoirs that feed the river.

“The main water supply to the river originates from large springs. The three main springs are Hasbani in Lebanon, Banias in the Golan, and Dan in Israel. These three main sources combine near the northern edge of the Hula Valley and from there form the Upper Jordan River which flows south about 14 km and enters the Sea of Galilee. After leaving the Sea of Galilee, the River is known as the Lower Jordan River. About 10 km south of the Sea of Galilee, its main tributary, the Yarmouk River, joins the Jordan River. The Yarmouk River drains the basaltic plateaus of the Hauran in Syria, an area of fair rainfall and strong runoff, and, accordingly, with fewer springs. South of the confluence with the Yarmouk, the Jordan River flows to the Dead Sea. From the Yarmouk to the Dead Sea the river receives almost no direct rainfall, but picks up volumes of water from ground water spring flow and intermittent tributaries along its 200 km meander southward along the valley floor to the Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth. Only some 50 years ago an estimated 1.3 billion cubic meters of water flowed annually from the Lower Jordan River into the Dead Sea. [15]”

The Jordan River Valley has various zones which have allowed for specific vegetation types in a small geographical area. These vegetation types include saline vegetation at the middle and southern parts of the river banks and their flooding plains, tropical vegetation which occupies the lower parts of the middle and southern Valley, and steppe vegetation at the northern parts. This varied vegetation cover includes important species which are common, rare or endangered. As well, the Jordan River Valley has three zoos from three separate geographic regions.


1.5 Economics and the River

The Jordan River has a long history of human habitation and cultural and religious values. For thousands of years, people have used the river and surrounding land as their main source of economy. The seas provide a way of bounding the river system for analysis, from an ecological control point. Agriculture is the first used of the majority of water in the Jordan River. Agriculture and irrigation are the cause of considerable loads of salts, nutrients, and pesticides in the surface. More economic growth and growing populations also increase the need of water from the Sea of Galilee to flow into the Jordan River.

With natural resources and with the religious significance of the river, a new tourism project educating the public about the history and natural beauty of the river has opened. Development of eco-tourism in the Jordan River Valley is an example of an economic activity that can, if properly planned and implemented, balance the competing economic and conservation interests at stake.


1.6 Stakeholders and Responsible Authorities

The first note of Article 5 of the World Heritage Convention elaborates on the importance of participation: “To ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage situated on its territory, each State Party to this Convention shall endeavour, in so far as possible, and as appropriate for each country: a. to adopt a general policy which aims to give the cultural and natural heritage a function in the life of the community and to integrate the protection of that heritage into comprehensive planning programmes.”[16].

The Jordan River water system is managed by three public sectors: The Jordan Valley Authority (JVA), the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI), and the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ). The Jordan Valley Authority, a government organization, is responsible for the social and economic development, utilization, protection, and conservation of water resources and natural resources. It is responsible for irrigated farming, municipal, industrial and tourist purposes, and the generation of hydroelectric power and other beneficial uses. Its responsibilities include water resources protection and conservation. It is also responsible for the water that comes from the Yarmouk River in the North to the Red Sea in the south. The Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) carries full responsibility for public water supply, wastewater services, and related projects as well as for overall water resources planning and monitoring, construction, operations, and maintenance.

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) is responsible for overall monitoring of the water sector, water supply, and the wastewater system; they are responsible for related projects, planning, and management. Besides the government work to get better water sources, GLOWA JR is an institute financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and Friends of the Earth Middle East, and other organizations are helping in managing the water resources and the dryness issue of the water system. All of those managers have the ability to work in the system with the regulations in which they agreed.

“Water management and stakeholder participation in the Jordan River system are as follows: • Socio-economic and natural drivers and consequences of changes in water availability and water use. • Sector vulnerability to changing water resources. • Equitable and efficient allocation of water, taking into account water requirements of humans and natural ecosystems. • Appropriate adaptations in land and water use in response to regional environmental change. [11]”

With increasing population and with the financial problems, the government works in the water wastes to help increase the amount of water sources in the country. The usage of the river has increased in recent years, due to that, management of the resources has to be done for the present and future plans because the Jordan River is the only source of water in Jordan. The surface water resources are developed to a large extent to be used for irrigation, while undeveloped water resources are limited and their exploitation expensive.

Friends of the Earth Middle East have proposed a project to be done in the River. It is based on facilitating plans for the restoration of in stream flows to the river itself. Protection of in stream flows follows accepted academic and policy recommendations, including those of the European Commission’s Water Directive, the World Commission on Dams, and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). To start on the proposed project the following steps are to be done: • Collection of current research on flows within the region,

• Comparison of local options with international experience in restoration flows,

• Adaptation of international models to local circumstances,

• Agreement on level of desired and feasible restoration through participatory process,

• Evaluation of the social and economic impacts of restoration and possible compensation for those who may be adversely affected,

• Development of restoration plan, and

• Promoting political and social support for plan [15].



2. Resilience to What? – Disturbances


With the excessive richness of the natural and cultural wealth of the river system, threats were present such as dryness, pollution, and inappropriate development. Of the 1.3 billion cubic meters of water annually that would naturally flow down the Jordan River to the Dead Sea, more then 90% of this water is presently sidetracked for other purposes. Residents and tourists have little access to the river due to the military restrictions. Many situations have damaged the Jordan River, such as shrinkage of the river and its habitat and pollution from the companies around the system. There has been an agreement to prevent the flow of wastewater to the Jordan River, and the use of recycled and brackish water renews the Jordan River’s flow. What makes the situation worse for the Jordan River Valley is that not only has the river mostly dried up, it also has turned into a sewage dumping ground; the lower part of the Jordan River has turned into a sewage canal [14]. The solutions to prevent the shortage and wastes of the water are to re-treat of the river water. This will be further explained in the following sections:


2.1 Threats to the System

The Jordan River is one of the most amazing natural sites that is directly associated with ancient and modern history. The river was the baptism site for Jesus and has a special sacred religious importance to the three monilithous religions. Unfortunately, the river currently faces problems from pollution and 90% decrease of its volume. While a section of the river near the Sea of Galilee has been kept clean for use in baptisms, much of the Jordan’s route is now polluted. Damming and channel diversions have reduced the Jordan’s flow, and the Dead Sea is shrinking as well. The total area of the Jordan River is 19000 Sq. Km, its annual water availability is 1800 MCM/yr, and its annual water use is 1400 MCM/yr. With the help of the government and other organizations in the region who are working for re-treatment and restoration of the Jordan River, people and governments are hoping for the river to not dry up and disappear.

An environmental group has warned that the Jordan River is in danger of disappearing altogether under pressure from huge water diversion programs. More than 90% of the water is being diverted by Israel, Jordan, and Syria, according to Friends of the Earth Middle East. The river is also heavily polluted and now contains 20% untreated sewage. The availability of water both in sufficient quantity and good quality is a required element for social and economic development as well as the public health concerns. Conflicts over water are triggered also by unequal distribution of water resources in the region. This inequity is partially due to natural and climatologically factors, but also to the political and economic situation [14].

Due to the climate conditions, the increasing number of the population and with the economic problem of the country in terms of irrigated agriculture, satisfying the needs of the growing population has resulted in a shortage in the water levels. The Jordan River basin in Jordan constitutes the wettest area in Jordan and the economic development is the highest in the country. Irrigated agriculture represents the main economic activity in terms of population employed and economic return. If the issue of the dryness and pollution continues in the system, the country will have a severe economic problem along with the availability of clean water for human resources. Therefore, the government is hoping for more assistance from other international organizations to help the river of not drying up in the future [14]. The river is already flowing dry in some areas and Friends of the Earth estimate that it could dry out completely within two years if no progress is made. The pollution in the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, which itself is under threat and has shrunk by 30% in the last 50 years. Friends of the Earth came to this conclusion about the Jordan River: “The report states the following main challenges facing the lower Jordan River:

1- Excessive water diversion and dam building resulting in sections of the river drying up in summer with the resultant demise of river habitat.

2- The capture of the winter flood waters of the Jordan River and its tributaries negatively impacting the habitat of the upper banks of the river.

3- The cessation of untreated sewage discharge into the river without the return of considerable quantities of healthy water to the river.

4- The lack of cooperative mechanisms in place promoting sustainable development to allow residents of the valley to benefit and prosper from the natural and cultural heritage of the valley.[14] “

The progress of building canals has been achieved in last years, but with the 1967 war, more people started immigrating to Jordan and more pressure was on the Jordan River. In the 1980s, Jordan started reusing the wastewater for agricultural purposes, so it can increase the water demand. Many wastewater treatments were built to treat the sewage of the water in the cities. Treated wastewater used for irrigation increased and reached about 60/yr MCM. Several wastewater treatment plants were built to treat the sewage of the major big cities in Jordan. “It was estimated that some 60 MCM/year of treated wastewater can be used in 2005 to irrigate 12 000 ha concentrated specially in the Jordan valley [7]”.

Table ‎2.1: Summary table of focal system disturbances


Image:fig1.3.jpg


In September 2006, a problem arose with pollution as raw sewage flowed into the river and the sea. “Small sections of the Jordan's upper portion, near the Sea of Galilee, have been kept pristine for baptisms. Most polluted is the 60-mile downstream stretch – a meandering stream from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. Environmentalists say the practice has almost destroyed the river's ecosystem. Rescuing the river could take decades, according to environmentalists [1].” “In 2007, friends of the Earth Middle East named Jordan River as one of the world's 100 most endangered ecological sites, due in part to lack of cooperation between Israel and the neighboring Arab states [2]”. Regarding the dryness problem, research is still in progress.

The river and the ecosystem it supports, including the Dead Sea, face ecological disaster. All the parties who share the river have competed unilaterally to use as much of the water resources as possible without paying any attention to their neighbors. Jordan, Israel, and Syria have all diverted upstream waters for domestic and agricultural uses. “The latest threat to the river’s water supply is a new Syrian dam on the Yarmuk River. The dam should be operational this year (2008), Bromberg said, and then the two major sources of the lower Jordan – the Yarmuk and the Sea of Galilee – will no longer provide any water to the river. [12]”


2.2 Opportunities and solutions

Re-treatment of the river water in the last years has increased. The amount of the treated wastewater stored in the King Talal Reservoir has increased from 30 MCM in 1986 to 44 MCM in 1990. Currently, the treated effluent represents almost 50% of the total capacity of the dam (55 MCM). Water stored in the King Talal Dam is used directly or in mixture with water in the King Abdullah Canal to irrigate land in the middle and the southern parts of the Jordan valley.

Achieving genuine change in the area around the system, the river requires a systematic, multifaceted public campaign to inform people about the situation of the river. Such a campaign will target polluters, offer alternative solutions to sewage spillage, take up legal battles, change legislation, encourage local communities to take action, and hold those in charge of enforcing pollution regulations accountable for their weak stance towards polluters. The sewage and saline water discharged into the river is presently much of what is left of the liquid sustaining the ecology of the river. Despite the plans to treat the sewage for agricultural use and to desalinate water for drinking purposes would, in fact, leave large sections of the river completely dry in summer. New dams currently being built on the Yarmuk River and other tributaries would reduce the annual flooding that nourishes the habitat of the upper banks of the Jordan River.

“Beyond policy changes, there are other options to boost the region’s water supply – namely the proposed 200 kilometer (125 mile) long canal to bring water to the region from the Red Sea. Combined with desalination projects, the canal could bring fresh water not only to the Dead Sea but also to the lower Jordan. [12]”.



3. Cycles of Change: The Adaptive cycle

The Jordan River is an example of a system that undergoes adaptive cycles (cycle of change). Changes in the river occur in a cycle form that is characterized by gradual changes and unexpected transitions. Despite all of that, the only cycle that appears in the river is the reorganizing cycle because of the shrinkage of the water level in the system. But it is still determined that the overall connected system behaves in the river. Most of the area in Jordan receives less than 12 centimeters of rain a year, mostly from November to March. On the other hand, precipitation increases to around 30 to 50 or more centimeters in the other months.

Most of the changes of cycle are being formed in the entire Middle East region (upper and lower regions of the Jordan River). Cycles of change in the Jordan River are controlled by: land use (forest, agricultural-population), climatic conditions, and subsurface properties. Those changes have occurred in recent years and will occur again and again. Population doubles every couple of years, implying dramatic land use and land cover changes. Land use change affects the hydrological cycle in two ways. Firstly, the land surface determines how much of the rainfall evaporates and how much becomes available as runoff in the river. Secondly, land cover changes affect the energy exchange between land and atmosphere thereby, altering local weather patterns [10].

“Natural variability of precipitation, variations caused by human activities and their effect on the cycle of changes in the Jordan River are as follows: • Interactions between the hydrological cycle, the biosphere and land use

• Water availability and conflicting water uses [10]”.

The path of the cycle in the system can come back to the loop to the growth cycle if the management institutes and the government can build enough dams to save the rainfall water and manage the water availability and without the conflicting water use. With the global changes the water amount in the river will further decrease. Climate changes decrease the amount and quality of the water. Also, climate variability, frequency, and intensity of hydro-meteorological extremes are expected to increase further. At the same time, water demand has increased, following population growth and economic development. Given that population growth rates are among the highest in the world, further increases in demand are expected. Water quality is impacted too, in respect to salt content, largely due to agricultural activities, irrigation, and wastewater management [8].

“Irrigation consumes about two thirds of the region’s surface and ground water ("blue water") resources. Most of the surface water is located in the upper basin of the Jordan River, from where large amounts of water are exported to the south and beyond the basin. While blue water resources are fully exploited or even over-exploited, there is potential to increase water productivity of the region’s "green water" (i.e., soil water from precipitation), for the benefits of humans and ecosystems. The region's available surface and groundwater resources are largely trans-boundary, and their distribution adds conflict potential. Strategies for sustainable water management must be based on collaboration between the various regional stakeholders and on sound scientific knowledge [8].”

GLOWA, a Global Change and Hydrological cycle research center, provides support for sustainable water management in regard to the changes happening to the system. “The GLOWA Jordan River Project addresses the vulnerability of water resources in eastern Mediterranean environments under global change and evaluates adaptation options. Natural water availability (per capita) in the Jordan River region is among the lowest in the world and spatially and temporally highly variable. Therefore, the study region is highly vulnerable to changes in availability of water [8].”

“The projects that are being built in the region are to assess the effects of climate and land use change on spatio-temporal surface water availability and groundwater recharge as well as water quality, aiming at a regionalization of runoff in small headwater catchments to a full water balance for the upper Jordan River, including Lake Kinneret. Also it describes the hydrological processes in the karst watersheds of the upper Jordan River Golan. The hydrological models are applied for the main tributaries to the upper Jordan River and mainstream Jordan River for quantifying runoff generation and river routing [9].”

Many other projects involving reuse and desalination exist in the upper regions and lower regions of the area. The Jordan River’s include receding seashores, destruction of natural habitats, and changes in landscapes.


4. Adaptability and Transformative Change

The Jordan River is a religious-ecological system in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is the only river in the country that has huge amount of pressure on the system. It provides many opportunities such as economic, religious tourism, and biodiversity.

Over the past decades, many institutes around the world have focused on attempting to return the system to a more desirable ecological system. Desired conditions include the development of habitats, clean water, and the reuse of wastewater for irrigation purposes. These objectives have been pursued through an adaptive management program with many research systems that are focused on a clean water system in the region. The research consisted of the release of large volumes of water from the Jordan River.

One of the most important management companies in the Jordan River region is GLOWA. GLOWA Jordan River (GLOWA JR) is an interdisciplinary and international research project providing scientific support for sustainable water management in the Jordan River region. The management goals of all of the research centers and the government departments are to change and make better the ecological state of the Jordan River by cleaning the wastewater and reusing it for agricultural purposes.

The prior management structure of the Jordan River system was performed by different government departments, environmental, laws and stakeholders. They focused on the development of a clean river that can provide enough resources for all of the increasing population. All of them focused on the primary goal and agreed to work on everything without any conflicts. Because of the political problems in the region, the management of the river source was agreed on between the sharing countries, since the system is a source of economy to the populations of all countries around the river. Despite the agreements, in the 10 years since the Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan, there has been no treatment strategy launched and there has been no cooperation on the protected areas or the cultural heritage of the Jordan River Valley. With this problem, not enough work has been done in the past years; therefore, pressure to both governments should be applied to save the River from vanishing [8]. To focus more on the projects for the river, the steps of the transformation of the system will be achieved by four interacting processes:

1) Integrating knowledge,

2) Developing a vision and goals within a common framework,

3) Development of a robust social network, and

4) Recognizing and acting when a window of opportunity is opened.


Integrating knowledge of the system and the problem of the river is a must in order for the system to transform. By making inventories and maps of economic and cultural resources, a common vision is needed to bring together a various set of land uses and management practices to gain the goal. This vision is managed by the government and the research centers that help to reuse the water and build canals and dams to save the rainfall water. They developed goals for the ecosystem that focus on environmental protection, conservation, and tourism as well as concern more for the population’s health.

The water of the Jordan River is managed by the water sector in Jordan; it was assigned to discuss and develop proposals to carry out the new vision and goals. They worked on the social aspect for the health of the citizens along with, economic and ecological aspects for new management approaches. A window of opportunity opened for other investment companies to help the country in reusing the wastewater and for distillation projects.

Three public sectors (refer to section 1.6) working with other international organizations such as GLOWA (research center) are responsible for managing the river source and will help the river from not vanishing and achieve their mission. The project of the GLOWA is coordinated by the Department of Plant Ecology of the University of Tübingen, Germany to increase human and the ecosystem use of the regions water under global change and climate changes. “The GLOWA Jordan River project provides scientific support for improved water management in a highly water-stressed region [8].”


References:

[1]. Ramit Plushnick-Masti. “Raw Sewage Taints Sacred Jordan River”. < http://www.livescience.com/environment/060911_ap_Jordan_Baptism.html> Associated Press. Retrieved on April 4, 2008.

[2]. "Endangered Jordan",Dateline World Jewry, World Jewish Congress,< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Jewish_Congress> Retrieved on April 4, 2008.

[3]. Aida Jridi, “The Development of the Jordanian, Jordan River Basin: The main historical steps” <http://www.mrea-jo.org/Documents/Jridi-JordanBasin.pdf> Retrieved on April 8,2008.

[4]. Muhammed R. Shatanawi. “Legal and Institutional Aspects of Water Management in Jordan”.

[5]. Eng. Suzan Taha. Country papaer presented to the Conference of the water Directors of the Euro-Mediterranean & South Eastern European Countries.

[6]. Diana Hummel,”Population Dynamics and Conflicts on Water Resources in the Jordan River Basin Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE)”,<http://www.nachhaltiges-wirtschaften.net/ftp/tagungen/dh_popdynamik_2006.pdf > April8,2008.

[7]. Rebhieh Suleiman.  :Historical Outline of Water Resources Development in the Lower Jordan River Basin” Royal Institute of Technology.

[8]. Key Results in Phase1. “GLOWA” <http://www.glowa.org/eng/jordan_eng/jordan_eng_resume.php > Retrieved on April 5, 2008.

[9]. Project 6: Hydrological modeling Upper Jordan. “GLOWA” < http://www.glowa-jordan-river.de/ProjectP06/HomePage > Retrieved on April 5, 2008.

[10]. Jordan River, Part 2 “GLOWA” <http://www.pal-efc.org/english/glowa.htm > Retrieved on April 6, 2008.

[11]. GLOWA, “Vulnerability of Water Resources Due to Climate Change in Eastern Mediterranean Ecosystems.

[12]. Vanishing Jordan River Needs Global Rescue Effort. Environment News Service. < http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2006/2006-05-16-10.asp> Retrieved on April 23, 2008.

[13]. Pollution threatens revered Jordan River. U.S. Water News Online. < http://www.uswaternews.com/archives/arcglobal/5pollthre11.html> Retrieved on April 23, 2008.

[14]. River Jordan: More Pollution than Water and Religion. Arab Environment Watch. < http://www.arabenvironment.net/archive/2006/10/102006.html> Retrieved on April 23, 2008.

[15]. Crossing the Jordan. Friends of the Earth Middle East.<http://foeme.org/index_images/dinamicas/publications/publ21_1.pdf> Retrieved on April 23, 2008.

[16]. Article 5. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization <http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=13055&URL_DO=DO_PRINTPAGE&URL_SECTION=201.html> Retrieved on April 23,2008

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