One of Jordan’s biggest industries is travel and tourism because it is replete with amazing historical sites and scenery. Fortunately, I have been able to relish in the natural beauty Jordan has to offer. From the Red Sea in the South to the lush olive groves in the North and the desert all in between, Jordan is truly breathtaking. Because tourism is so popular here, there are a number of initiatives to protect and preserve the ancient ruins as well as the natural beauty of many areas.
One such place is the Wadi Mujib Nature Preserve whichis located Southwest of Amman in the vast range of slot canyons that empty into the Dead Sea. We went soon after our arrival in Jordan because once the rainy season starts in the fall they close down until the next summer in order to avoid possible problems with flash flooding. We hiked up one of the slot canyons in about two-three feet of water, up to a big waterfall surrounded by the beautiful sandstone walls of the canyon, which strangely resembled the slot canyons in my home state of Utah. It was surreal. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a waterproof camera, so for a glimpse just Google it.
Despite that image of rivers of water flowing through the slot canyons, the single biggest problem in Jordan is their lack of water resources. They have one of the lowest rates of water per capita in the world. They draw most of their water from the Yarmouk River, the Jordan River (which are shared with Syria and Israel), and an underground non-renewable aquifer. These will be supplemented by the planned water pipeline bringing water from the Red Sea and pumping it into the Dead Sea. This will help replenish the Dead Sea, whose water level has been receding steadily, and also provide potable water to the public. Water is a very serious issue in Jordan and only intensifying with the constant waves of refugees from neighboring countries.
To give an idea of how bad the water situation is in Amman, water is only pumped to your neighborhood once a week. One day per week water is pumped to your neighborhood and fills your water tank on the roof. That precious supply is all you have until the next week. Showers are intermittent and quick, toilets are flushed sparingly, and washing dishes is done with absolute minimal water. Even observing these strict water-usage guidelines, it is not uncommon for the water tank to run dry. When that happens it is very expensive to have a water truck drive out and refill it, and, in reality, many do not have the resources to pay for it. Water conservation is a very conscious part of daily life, which differs drastically with most places in the US where water is more than abundant and relatively inexpensive. This is one of the most salient aspects of my experience in Jordan and it has made me question my own history of blatant water overuse and made me profoundly grateful for the abundant supply of natural resources in the U.S.