Saturday 23rd of March 2019 |
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Claims that ministry opened floodgates before Dead Sea flashflood ‘completely false’ — Ministry


By Hana Namrouqa, The Jordan Times


AMMAN — The Ministry of Water and Irrigation on Saturday denied as baseless news reports circulating on social media claiming the ministry opened the gates of a newly-constructed dam, and caused Thursday’s flashflood that claimed the lives of 21 people.
The news reports circulating on social media outlets and via mobile phone texting applications claimed that the ministry opened the gates of Wadi Zarqa-Maeen Dam to prevent its collapse due to it allegedly reaching its full capacity or because it was faulty and to prevent it from falling apart.
“This is completely false on so many grounds, how can people share information [when] they are not sure about its accuracy,” Ministry of Water and Irrigation Spokesperson Omar Salameh, told The Jordan Times on Saturday.
First, the Wadi Zarqa-Maeen Dam is 20 kilometres away from the site of the flashflood and has no gates or shutters which can be opened or raised to let excess water out of the reservoir when it reaches its full capacity, Salameh said.
“All that this dam has is a let-out point in the form of a pipe that allows the seeping of a maximum of 50-70 cubic metres per minute down the dam’s stream. This amount of water is leaked into the valley in order for farmers to use the water for irrigation,” Salameh told The Jordan Times.
Located south of Madaba Governorate, Wadi Zarqa-Maeen is one of the water trails favoured by hikers and adventure seekers due to its waterfalls and pools as well as its rich vegetation, according to web sources.
Second, the ministry’s official said, the dam is new.
“It was completed last year, when storage there was also tested and proved to be 100 per cent safe. In addition, all the country’s dams undergo annual checkups and maintenance ahead of every wet season to ensure they are safe,” Salameh noted.
Salameh said that the dam now stores 25 per cent or 495,000 cubic metres of water out of its total capacity of 2 million cubic metres.
He noted that the ministry’s figures show that the Zarqa-Maeen-Dead Sea area witnessed heavy downpour on Thursday which reached 40 millimetres in one hour.
Salameh said that the Jordan Valley Authority started construction work on the Wadi Zarqa-Maeen Dam in 2015, with the aim of storing floodwater for drinking and irrigation purposes.
The dam was built at a cost of JD10 million to protect the environment and people from flashfloods, provide additional water for crop irrigation and tourist ventures and to expand agricultural lands in the surrounding area, which stretches from Wadi Zarqa-Maeen towards the Jordan Valley, according to the ministry.
Construction of the dam was funded by a Gulf Cooperation Council grant.

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