Diagram showing how deep Jordan must drill to reach fossil water, more than 3600 feet. Graphic: Robin Muccari / NBC News

By Linda Givetash
1 January 2019

AMMAN, Jordan (NBC News) – For the past decade, Khawla Qisi has trapped herself at home on Fridays. It’s the only day of the week her apartment building receives water, and she has to make the most of it.

“I can't do anything else but focus on the water," she said.

Jordan has struggled with its water supply for decades. The arid nation receives roughly 20 days of rain per year and climate change is making conditions worse just as water demands from the growing population increase.

At the center of the government's efforts to obtain more of this precious resource is a patch of desert swirling with dust devils about 32 miles south of Amman.

Seven new wells are scheduled to be built here to tap the Disi, a deep aquifer that contains so-called fossil water that accumulated 10,000 to 30,000 years ago. It's the last source of fresh groundwater for the country, experts say.

"After this, we are out of chances," said Marwan Al-Raggad, a hydrogeology professor at the University of Jordan.

Reaching it requires drilling about twice as deep as groundwater aquifers — which are typically 1,640 feet underground and refilled by rainwater.

“It means huge energy is needed to extract this water,” said Ali Subah, general secretary of Jordan's water and irrigation ministry. “It will be expensive.” [more]

Jordan to drill 'fossil water' wells a half-mile underground



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