Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More on the Karamah dam discussion

Yesterday, Minister of Water and Irrigation Zafer Alem gave his point of view with regard to the Karamah dam, which the parliament is now examining. He was deeply involved in the decision, so it is understandable that he would defend the project.

The main defense Alem offered was that the project was studied by a British consulting firm, Sir Alexander Gibb and associates. He says that the Gibb report suggested that washing out the dam a few times will remove all the salt in the area. He said that “the strategy to clean out the salt could not be implemented because of drought from 1997 to 2006 prevented it”. Of course, I have not noticed this 9 year drought that he is talking about, unless of course you are comparing Jordan to Scotland. The bottom line was that water managers had more pressing needs to meet than to waste 50 million cubic meters of water on a salty useless dam. Anybody who understands the water situation in Jordan would have foreseen that.

It is interesting that invoking the name of a British firm is believed to be enough to silence critics. It is as if the minister is saying “Since a tall, blond, blue eyed consultant said it was OK, then we are not to be blamed”. I mean, who are you going to believe, a local expert or a foreigner? This logic holds even after the project is a proven failure.

It is interesting to note that Gibb and associates were involved in another multi million Dinar disaster in Jordan. They designed a dike system for the Arab Potash company which subsequently collapsed (scroll to page 7). Oops. It seems that despite the fancy name, Sir Alexander Gibb and associates sends over people like this fellow, who, at the tender age of 17, and five years before receiving his engineering degree, was a Junior Engineer for Gibb, in charge of “Site investigation interpretive reporting and analysis of embankment settlement and stability (for Arab Potash Project, Jordan)”.

Now, there are thousands of qualified people in Jordan who are capable of doing engineering and geological studies. Why not ask them for their advice? They would certainly cost less than our foreign blue eyed friends, and they understand the local environment. The answer is that our decision makers still think that “Il frinji brinji” (what is foreign is good). At least, you might intimidate your critics with a fancy consultants’ name when things go bad.

Anyway, a friend of mine suggests a new use for the dam. He says that we can take the cucumbers from the Jordan Valley, and throw them into the dam to make a giant pickle factory. Too bad Alem didn’t think of that.

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At 12:05 PM, Blogger Tallouza said...

Hello Khalaf...If Sir Alem did a study for sir Gibb, and the study proved to be disastrous, would this issue wait for years to be even highlighted? I doubt it. We would be hearing about it in courts, and that is where this and other similar issues belong. But then again, the khawaja knows best! How about we collect the water in this damn and transfer it to the Dead Sea? Another disastor in the making.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Tallouza: Alem didn't do the study. He just bowed in submission when THE REPORT was delivered.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't understand the second half of the second paragraph in the post. I do think that you can call the last 9 years years of drought. According to the story, the studies that were performed on the dam were done in the eighties. Now I don't have exact numbers, but I can speak from my own memory. I remember when I was a little kid having snow in the winter was a normal thing. I remember many years where we used to get at least 1 foot of snow. That was clearly not the case in the last decade. I do remember in the late 90's when people had to worry about buying water in the summer. So I'm a person who will agree with someone saying that the water situation in the country took a turn for the worse in the last decade or so.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hamzeh: There are no data to suggest a nine year drought. It is total BS. As you know, the weather every year fluctuates within a certain range. The early nineties were not "average" years.

I have seen many studies on this issue. The long-term records show that we are within the average for the last eighty years (when the first stations were installed).

The water crisis is due to increased demand due to population growth. The supply has not really changed.

At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you're saying that the real problem is not drought, it was an increase in demand that might have not been accounted for. If you say studies prove it, I believe you, although I think both of us agree studies' findings can sometimes be misleading.

Where exactly is the karameh dam? Is it near the actual town of karameh in the Jordan Valley?

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hamzeh: Impressions can be misleading; even studies, as you say, can be misleading. Data, however, are impartial. I would invite you to look at the rainfall data from 1976 to 2005 as posted on website of the Jordanian Meteorological department for yourself, and to draw your own conclusions the trends over the period.

The dam is to the north of the town of Karameh. It is marked on Google Earth.



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