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Nordic Hydrology Vol 37 No 3 pp 277–292 © IWA Publishing 2006 doi:10.2166/nh.2006.013

Recharge origin, overexploitation, and sustainability of water resources in an arid area from Azraq basin, Jordan: case study

William Bajjali1 and Khair Al-Hadidi2

1Corresponding author. Department of Biology and Earth Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Superior, Belknap & Catlin, PO Box 2000, Superior, WI 54880, USA. wbajjali@uwsuper.edu
2Groundwater Basin Directorate, Water Authority of Jordan, PO Box 2412 Amman, Jordan


The Azraq groundwater basin, found in Jordan, is an important resource for available water to the public. Its magnitude and value has been decreasing for the last two decades. The groundwater level has been declining on a yearly basis since the 1980s, and over-pumping, which has tripled since 1983, has led to the drying up of major springs in the 1990s.

Overexploitation is considered as the adverse effect on groundwater mass balance, where the abstraction increases yearly and beyond the safe yield. Over-pumping and irrigation activities cause groundwater to become more saline.

The isotopic composition of groundwater is divided into two groups. The first group is associated with EMWL, and the second with GMWL. The recharge origin of the first group, which includes the upper and middle aquifers, originate from outside the Azraq basin with a land elevation higher than 1150 m asl. The groundwater of the second group is considered palaeowater. No major recharge component is identified in the basin. Accurate and reliable scientific approaches are indispensable to better understand, plan and manage the groundwater resources.

Keywords: Environmental isotopes; groundwater stratification; overexploitation; over-pumping; recharge; sustainability

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