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Cablegate: Jordan Strikes Deal for Israeli Water Assistance; Domestic

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAM #1639/01 1531101
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011101Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2757
INFO RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1205
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 5043
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 5998
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 2860
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3677
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 3900
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 1964
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC
RUEHDOI/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA WASHDC

UNCLAS AMMAN 001639

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ELA, NEA/RA, AND OES
STATE PASS TO USAID
EPA FOR INTERNATIONAL
USDA FOR FOREST SERVICE/INTERNATIONAL
INTERIOR FOR INTERNATIONAL/WASHBURNE
CAIRO FOR VIALA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR PGOV PREL JO IS
SUBJECT: Jordan Strikes Deal for Israeli Water Assistance; Domestic
Water Demand Still Exceeds Supply

REF: A) Amman 409
B) Amman 228

(U) SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION

1. (SBU) Summary: Jordan is preparing for a rough summer of water
supply constraints, a result of the recent winter providing less
precipitation than expected. To mitigate the impact, Jordan has
reached an agreement with Israel in which the latter will provide an
additional 11 million cubic meters (MCM) of water this summer to
Jordan from Lake Tiberias/Sea of Galilee. Most of this additional
water is intended for municipal needs, which take priority over all
other sectors, according to GOJ policy. Only 43 percent of the
agricultural water needs in the Jordan Valley are currently being
supplied, sufficient for the survival of existing crops, but not for
planting new crops. The additional water assistance will be
helpful, but it will have little impact on the Jordan Valley
Authority's predicament -- caught between the conflicting needs of
the municipal water and agricultural sectors. End Summary.

Israel to Help Jordan through a Dry Patch
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) With the recent winter providing less precipitation than
expected, Jordan is preparing for a long, dry summer (ref A).
Confirming what Ambassador and emboffs have heard in recent weeks
from local Israeli Embassy officials, Secretary General of the
Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) Mousa Jamani told ESTH Officer that
Israel has agreed to lend Jordan an additional 11 million cubic
meters (MCM) of water this summer from Lake Tiberias. The deal was
reportedly struck during an April 2008 visit to Israel by Raed Abu
Saud, Jordan's Minister of Water and Irrigation.

3. (SBU) Jamani explained that under the 1994 peace treaty, each
year Israel provides Jordan with 25 MCM of water from Lake Tiberias
distributed over the course of the year. It also provides 10 MCM of
"desalinated" water annually. Note: Although the desalination plant
stipulated in the peace treaty was never built, 10 MCM is provided
under that rubric. End Note. Jordan, in return, is expected to
divert 20 MCM of water from the Yarmouk River to Lake Tiberias every
winter. Jamani noted that during the 2007-2008 winter, Jordan was
only able to divert 1.5 MCM of water to Israel. Despite Jordan's
deficit, Israel has agreed to provide it with an additional 11 MCM
to mitigate the summer crisis, resulting, according to Jamani, in
Jordan needing to return 9.5 MCM of water in the future.

Drought Measures Severely Impact Agricultural Sector
--------------------------------------------- -------

4. (SBU) Jamani reiterated the GOJ policy that municipal water
needs take priority over all other sectors. JVA is therefore
diverting 55 percent of all water from the Jordan Valley for
municipal use. Jamani complained, however, of the immense water
losses, currently estimated at 45 percent of capacity, from leaking
pipes as well as the lack of payment in the municipal sector, and
how reducing these losses would relieve JVA of some of its burden.
While Amman and other urban areas are likely to keep receiving water
over the summer months, the agricultural sector will be severely
affected. Jamani noted that only 43 percent of the agricultural
water needs in the Jordan Valley were currently being supplied,
sufficient for the survival of existing crops, but not for planting
new crops. When questioned about whether any compensation would be
paid to the farmers for their likely farming losses, an occasional
GOJ practice, Jamani commented that no money had been set aside for
reimbursement (ref A).

5. (SBU) Jamani surmised that farmers understand the reality and
will more easily accept the tough conditions because the JVA
maintains a regular dialogue with them. He highlighted that the
efficiency of Jordan's agricultural distribution network is close to
90 percent, well above the worldwide average of 70 percent, which
means that little water is lost in the system of canals and pipes up
to the farm gate. However, the water losses at the farm unit are
inordinately high, leading to overall low water efficiency in

Jordan's agricultural sector. JVA is piloting a change in its
distribution paradigm, and will sell water in bulk to farmer
committees rather than to individual farmers. Jamani expects farm
efficiency will be improved by empowering farmer committees to be in
charge of allocations to their members.

6. (SBU) Comment: While the domestic use priority requires JVA to
ensure sufficient supply to the municipal water utilities, JVA also
has to face the wrath of Jordan's agricultural community which has
an expectation of receiving adequate water supplies. Though Jamani
complained of the high losses in the urban sector, he did not
mention that on-farm water management efficiency is only 40 percent,
below the international norm for similar systems which exceeds 80
percent. The additional water assistance from Israel this summer
will be helpful, but it will have little impact on JVA's
predicament, caught between the needs of the municipal water sector
and agricultural sector. Given current competing demands which are
exacerbated by low rainfall, Jordan simply lacks sufficient water to
meet all of the country's development needs. JVA's problems were
evident during the 40-minute meeting, during which Jamani received
two phone calls from high-level politicians requesting additional
water supplies for their agricultural constituents. End Comment.

Visit Amman's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman

HALE

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