Ben MILPAS

Photography

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Jordan, 'Bethany Beyond the Jordan' (Baptism site), Al-Maghtas, 4 July 2017
Once one of the great waterways of the ancient world, the Jordan River has been drained due to overuse, drought and pollution causing further depletion of its flow into the Dead Sea. For decades, water has been a source of conflict in Holy Land. Today, despite its natural and cultural importance, the ancient biblical waterway has been reduced to a murky body of water in danger of disappearing.

Jordan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. Demand for water greatly outstrips available water sources, and the margin is worsening. The Lower Jordan River Valley is a unique ecosystem stretching along both banks of the world’s lowest river, one of the oldest routes of human migration, with natural and cultural sites valued all over the world. Over the years, this unique river valley is threatened by excessive water diversion, pollution and inappropriate development causing the Jordan River to lose more than 90 percent of its normal flow. Upstream, at the Sea of Galilea, the water is diverted via Israel’s National Water Carrier, while dams built by Jordan and Syria claim a share of the river mostly for agriculture and domestic consumption. The fight over the Jordan is just another example for potential conflict over water that exists throughout our world. Rivalry in India and Pakistan over the Indus; Ethiopia and Egypt over the Nile; Turkey and Syria over the Euphrates are just a few similar cases of a long list. Today Jordan faces a deepening water crisis, worsened by climate change, regional conflict and immigration. It has one of the lowest levels of water availability per capita in the world. A situation now made more acute by the influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing from their country’s long and ongoing civil war. Jordan is consuming more water than is available from renewable sources, making potable water a priority. If current trends remain the same, Jordan will be in absolute water shortage by the early 2020s. In need for access to new bulk water. The country lacks to develop these on its own. This ongoing long-term project aims to highlight the importance of cross boundary efforts to protect water resources shared by different countries, often the sole lifeline for millions of people. All equally depending on it, all bound to consider each other need's.

 
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Jordan, Dead Sea, Border area, 27 July 2017.
In one of the most arid environments in the world, a soldier from the Jordanian Border Patrol is carrying his daily ration of drinking water to his outpost located next to the Jordan River flowing into the Dead Sea. Used as an International Border, the area is considered highly sensitive and the ground is scattered with mines on both banks of the river. Due to these Israeli and Jordanian military restrictions, the Lower Jordan River is off-limits for all visitors.

 
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Jordan, Yarmouk River, 1 July 2017
The Yarmouk River is the largest tributary of the Jordan River. A railway bridge over the Yarmouk was destroyed during the war in 1946. Remaining evidence of a past where both sides were still able to connect. Over the years, the valley turned in a highly secured military zone. The lower part of the river, close to the Jordan Valley, forms part of the border between Israel and Jordan. Further upstream its part of the border between Syria and Jordan. Jordan relies on the Yarmouk river system, although originating outside its borders. The flow is both diminishing and unpredictable, as a result of unequal distribution amongst riparians or over- extraction through upstream damming and diversions.

 
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Jordan, North Shuneh, 28 July 2017
‘I remember once in the 1990s, the Jordan River flooded my farm entirely, water came up as high as my citrus trees. In recent years, we spent nearly 200.000 JD’s of my own money to reinforce the river banks to prevent flooding as the water became heavily polluted, destroying my crops.’

Dams and diversions upstream have significantly diminished floodwaters reducing the river’s biodiversity, narrowing the riparian belt leaving it with fewer trees. Omar Halabi on his farm on the banks of the Jordan River in North Shuneh. Acces is strictly monitored by the Border Patrol. on the banks on both side of the river.

 
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Jordan, Zai Water Treatment plant, 12 July 2017.
Control room of the Zai water treatment plant which provides yearly over 90 million cubic metres of drinking water per year for the greater Amman area ‘

Amman’s water distribution has long been dogged by problems and many residents receive supply on just one day a week. Until very recently, over 50% of the water entering the city’s distribution system was effectively unaccounted for, with half of this being lost due to leakage or poor management. A series of initiatives designed to address these problems, leakage has been reduced to roughly a third. In addition, the efficiency of customer charging within the Greater Amman water distribution system has improved significantly. Education campaigns have also been supported, which have been very successful in boosting greater consumer awareness of the country’s pressing water concerns. Providing the country with additional volumes of water remains a priority.

 
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Jordan, Amman city, 1 August 2017
Unexpected increase in the population, uncontrolled urban expansion of the city. Most households install water storage tanks on their roofs to ensure supply.

 
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Jordan, Shuneh, 7 August 2017
Dried up river bedding near Al Karamah Dam. Beyond the dams and its reservoirs, the lack of water turns the terrain in an arid patch of land. Once, a river ran through this desert landscape where growth and development of life was possible.

 
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Jordan, Irbid, Al-Mugayyir, 5 July 2017
Water reservoir of the Wadi Al Arab dam mainly used for agriculture purposes. Jordan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. The scarcity of this precious element is widely seen as the single most important restriction on the country’s sustainable growth.

 
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Jordan, North Shuneh, 28 June 2017
Environmental challenges due to climate change continue to reduce annual rains and drying up water sources. Due to the drought, Bedouins are forced to purchase their water to ensure the survival of their herds.

 
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Jordan, Jerash,12 July 2017
The King Talal Dam is a large dam in the hills of northern Jordan, across the Zarqa River. Named after the King Talal of Jordan, the construction of the dam began in 1971 and was completed in 1978 at a height of 92,5 meters. To meet the countries increased water demands, the dam was raised to a height of 106 meter in 1984. Due to shorter rainy seasons, and longer droughts the amount water stored in the reservoir at the beginning of the summer months is at its lowest level since years. The main purpose is to store winter rains and the treated wastewater from Amman and Zarqa. The treated waste water is then used for irrigation in the Jordan Valley, irrigating about 17,000 hectares and supporting the livelihood of approximately hundred thousand people.

 
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Jordan, Jordan Valley, 7 August 2017
Rapid development since the building of the King Abdullah Canal in the late 1960s to irrigate the Jordan Valley has led to an agricultural industry that supplies most of Jordan’s tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, melons and citrus fruits. Concrete piping, plastic greenhouses and farm machinery characterize the area today. Shortage of water and excessive heat with summer temperatures often topping 45 °C are making the window to grow crops very limited. This period is further being reduced due to climate change and the lack of sufficient irrigation water.

 
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Jordan, Ghawr Al Haditha, 8 August 2017
The King Abdullah Canal doesn’t reach south of the Dead Sea leaving the farmers depend on the water coming from the Wadi’s originating in the Highlands along the Jordan Rift Valley. In Ghawr Al Haditha the water flows first through an entrapment area for filtration before being distributed to the farmers for irrigation. The quantity they receive is determined by the amount of land they own and cultivate.

 
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Jordan, Ghawr Al Haditha, 8 August 2017
The King Abdullah Canal doesn’t reach south of the Dead Sea leaving the farmers depend on the water coming from the Wadi’s originating in the Highlands along the Jordan Rift Valley. In Ghawr Al Haditha the water flows first through an entrapment area for filtration before being distributed to the farmers for irrigation. The quantity they receive is determined by the amount of land they own and cultivate.

 
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Jordan, Disi,18 July 2017
The Disi Water Conveyance Project is a water supply project in Jordan. It is designed to pump 100,000,000 cubic metres of water per year from the Disi aquifer, which lies beneath the desert in southern Jordan and northwestern Saudi Arabia. It is a fossil transboundary aquifer containing water that accumulated ten to thirty thousands years ago. This fossil aquifer is not replenished when water has been used. The water is piped to the capital, Amman, and other cities to meet increased demand. Underneath these rockformations the Disi Aquifer is located in South Jordan near the border with Saudi Arabia. On underground well is used for exploitation.