Why wastewater must be treated

Jordan is the second water scarcest country in the world. Analysis released in 2019, by the World Resources Institute, predicts that by 2040 Jordan will be ranked fifth in countries facing the greatest water stress.

Jordan's major and vital source of water is ground water. There are 12 groundwater basins, of which 10 are being pumped at a deficit. The looming question for Jordan's aquifers today is not if they will be depleted, but when.

A variety of factors have contributed to this situation and led to draining water supplies such as:

  • poor planning
  • water mismanagement
  • rapid population growth and refugees
  • reduced rainfall patterns
  • climate change

The reuse of treated wastewater is common in Jordan due to the lack of freshwater resources avaliable in the agriculture sector. Reuse of treated municipal wastewater in the agricultural sector occurs worldwide. Yet, there are limitations and challenges associated with the treated wastewater irrigation, such as public health risks caused by many pollutants. Jordan urgently needs to remove pollutants from wastewater (domestic and industrial) for there to be safe reuse of treated wastewater. This will also protect ground water from pollution.

In celebration of World Water Day, a Newton-Khalidi funded project was featured in last episode of the Newton-Khalidi Science Talks. The project addresses a creative solution for water scarcity in Jordan through a safer reuse wastewater for agricultural and commercial activities, alleviating the groundwater/freshwater demand.

Newton-Khalidi Fund enabled researchers to collaborate with industrial partners to tackle the water stress challenge in Jordan through the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Transforming Systems Partnership’s programme, in collaboration with Jordan’s Industrial and Research Development Fund.

The nature based solutions project utilises the UK-Jordan partnership in tackling the problem of water stress by:

  • Bilateral innovation capacities are enhanced to reuse pharmaceutical wastewater for washing, cooling and watering the plants.
  • The project team created a nature-based solution that effectively biodegrades pharmaceuticals from wastewater using Jordanian Zeolitic Tuff. Pharmaceutical Industries in Jordan are requested to treat their wastewater to meet the national discharge/reuse regulation (JS 202:2007) before discharging or reusing for agriculture irrigations.
  • A microcosm experiment for different constructed wetland systems (horizontal sub-surface flow (HSSF), vertical flow (tidal flow), and surface flow (SF)) -shown in the picture below- is designed and operated to treat real industrial wastewater discharged by two pharmaceutical factories. Based on the results of the microcosm experiment, two pilots will be constructed and operated at the pharmaceutical factories for further monitoring.


Wastewater treatment solutions is how our Newton-Khalidi Fund alumni are offering to mitigate the problems related to the decline of groundwater levels and degradation of water quality of Jordan’s aquifers. Yet, water withdrawal is still much higher than renewable water resources which gives the responsibility to our generation to find solutions and alternative methods to ground water protection.