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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

The occurrence and fate of pharmaceutical residues from their sources to water bodies and food chain

PI: Othman Almashaqbeh (, Scientific Research / Royal Scientific Society
U.S. Partner: Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Project Overview:

Jordan is facing a future of very limited water resources, among the lowest in the world on a per capita basis. Water scarcity is the single most important natural constraint to the country’s economic growth and development. Therefore, wastewater reuse is increasingly viewed as the primary long-term strategy for conservation of limited freshwater resources. In Jordan, the reuse of treated wastewater for irrigation has been practiced since the 1980s to overcome the severe water shortage. In 1998, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation commenced a wastewater management policy, stating that wastewater is a resource and cannot be treated as waste. More than 129 million cubic meters of wastewater is treated and reused for irrigation in agriculture activities, which are considered as one of the highest reuse rates among the Arab countries (95%). The treated wastewater is mixed with freshwater at the dams and then used for unrestricted irrigation in Jordan. Given these water reuse practices, the potential threats posed pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in treated wastewater to water resources and the food chain through plant uptake merit evaluation.

The results of this project will provide a comprehensive overview of the occurrence and behavior of PPCPs in the Middle East and North Africa region. The research team will assess information on the impacts of wastewater irrigation on water quality and human health in the region and will establish a baseline on the level of pharmaceutical contamination in Jordan’s water supply, irrigation water specifically, and vegetables grown using it. Moreover, this project should also help the water authorities in Jordan and worldwide take effective measures to protect water resources (groundwater and surface water), protect public health from the impact of PPCPs, and facilitate the rational reuse of treated wastewater in agriculture. The partnership with the U.S. researcher will allow for capacity building of researchers at the Jordan Royal Scientific Society in conducting scientific research on the impacts of emerging pollutant accumulation in the aquatic environment. The project outcomes will be disseminated to appropriate stakeholders.

Summary of Recent Activities: 

As of October 2017, the study team has collected 53 Grab and 22 POCIS samples from various water resources. These sites include: ground water aquifers (in Azraq & Disi); drinking water (Zay water treatment plant & Zara and Mujib desalination plant); dams (King Talal Dam and Mujib Dam); influent and effluent of wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) (As-Samra wasteWWTP and Wadi Al-Seer WWTP). The 13 POCIS samples collected from April to June 2017 were analyzed by the USG-supported partner at the Water Sciences Lab (WSL) at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL). The other 9 POCIS samples were kept at -20 Celsius freezer at RSS lab as back up samples.

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