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Wadi Al Arab Water System II Hydrates Jordan’s Northern Region

Water Authority of Jordan
Thanks to a newly-minted drinking water infrastructure upgrade, more than 1 million people now have improved access to potable water in the Northern Governorates of Jordan.

In November 2020, King Abdullah II cere­mo­ni­ously inaugurated the $129 million Wadi Al Arab Water System II, a marvel of modern ingenuity and inter­na­tional collab­o­ra­tion. A powerful team consisting of the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation/Water Authority, CDM Smith, local utilities, and inter­na­tional agencies, like the European Investment Bank, Agence Francaise de Devel­ope­ment, the European Union and the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Development joined forces to jumpstart a new age in water treatment for one of the world’s driest regions. 

$
combined funding from inter­na­tional partners
mile pipeline for conveyance
people with improved access to clean water

The new water treatment plant in the Jordan Valley takes water from the King Abdullah Canal, treats it to inter­na­tional standards for quality and delivers it to a surging populace. An influx of refugees from the neighboring civil war in Syria has led to a 10% increase in demand for clean water. 

The King Abdullah Canal, vulnerable to seasonal episodes of extreme turbidity, coliform bacteria levels, nematodes, organic carbon, as well as high levels of bromide, is the only locally available source of raw water with adequate capacity. To make matters worse, a lack of vegetated buffers has prevented filtering of cont­a­m­i­nants from agri­cul­tural and urban runoff. 

“This was one of the most difficult water sources to treat that I’ve seen,” said Mark White, CDM Smith vice president and drinking water discipline leader. “The design uses multiple stages of conven­tional treatment plus ultraviolet light disin­fec­tion to provide an extremely robust treatment system capable of handling the challenging seasonal spikes and swings in water quality, while using technology that is familiar with Jordanian staff.”

In its first year, the new plant is expected to produce 10 million-cubic-meters (mcm) of water. This will gradually increase to 15 to 20 mcm in the second year, and later up to its maximum capacity of 30 mcm, which covers 60% of the areas’ potable water needs

The finished project includes: 

  • A brand new WTP constructed in the Jordan Valley near the KAC Raw water intake from the King Abdulla Canal, with low-lift pump station that can screen out fine and coarse materials and are equipped with chlorine dioxide generators

  • 15-mile trans­mis­sion pipeline to convey the treated water

  • Four pump stations that can lift treated water from the below-sea-level treatment plant and deliver it to the Zabda Reservoir, a total increase of approx­i­mately 850m in elevation

  • The global COVID-19 pandemic added more envi­ron­men­tal stresses to an already vulnerable and arid region. Throughout the design and construc­tion phases, project team members found new ways of commu­ni­cat­ing and collab­o­rat­ing, which became especially important under quarantine.
This was one of the most difficult water sources to treat that I’ve seen.
Mark White, CDM Smith Vice President/drinking water discipline leader

CDM Smith’s substantive experience in remote tech­nolo­gies, like Microsoft’s HoloLens—an untethered, mixed-reality headset that allowed our experts to visit and explore the site remotely—helped to optimize the project’s design and construc­tion.  

“We had staff working on this project from 14 different locations, in six different time zones,” said Jennifer Osgood, CDM Smith vice president and drinking water expert. “Delivering severely needed water to the residents of Jordan was immensely fulfilling,” added Osgood, who has two decades of experience managing complex drinking water projects. Ultimately, the cohort of inter­na­tional funders and technical experts worked tirelessly to finish the project in just three years. 

In addition to the technical innovations delivered by the Wadi Arab II project team, there was also a layer of funding coor­di­na­tion contribut­ing to Jordan's newest water treatment plant. CDM Smith senior vice president and country manager Mehran Meserlian highlighted the efforts of government agencies, local utilities and munic­i­pal­i­ties, as well as inter­na­tional funding insti­tu­tions. "We were fortunate to have 30 years of experience working with many of these partners," said Meserlian. "Over the years we have worked together to deliver compre­hen­sive, high quality and durable infra­struc­ture across Jordan, and this project is no exception." 

Given its immense importance, the Government of Jordan exempted the project from the national quarantine, allowing CDM Smith’s construc­tion manager Hussien Khreis and his team to continue important work throughout the shutdown. 

"The Wadi Arab Water Supply System II project delivers a critical water supply to the Irbid Governate," said Khreis. "This project will have a profound impact on the lives of the people in the Northern Gover­norates by improving the water supply and quality in the region."

Jennifer Osgood Jennifer Osgood
We had staff working on this project from 14 different locations, in six different time zones.
"This project will have a profound impact on the lives of the people in the Northern Governorates by improving the water supply and quality in the region."
Hussien Khreis Wadi Arab II Project Manager
Project Details

Did you know?

The project team mostly modeled Wadi Arab II after the existing Zai Water Treatment Facility, the only other potable water facility currently using the King Abdullah Canal as a source water and a facility that CDM Smith upgraded with design-build improve­ments in the late 1990s. 

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