NRW: The Key to Securing Jordan’s Water Future

An exclusive interview with Stuart Hamilton, MIYA Director of International Business Development and Head of Non-Revenue Water Projects, on how can NRW (Non-Revenue Water) project secure Jordan’s precarious water future.

By Adam Robertson

Stuart Hamilton of European water operator and delivery of worldwide water projects MIYA, underscores Jordan’s uncertain water future and the pressing need for viable and efficient solutions to mitigate the deteriorating situation. Backed with 15 years of experience, hundreds of projects around the world benefiting millions of people, and eight awards, Hamilton is confident that MIYA can alleviate much of Jordan’s water worries with the company’s best-in-class methodologies and cutting-edge technologies.

Stuart Hamilton, MIYA Director of International Business Development and Head of Non-Revenue Water (NRW)
Stuart Hamilton, MIYA Director of International Business Development and Head of Non-Revenue Water

In urban areas, Jordanian households have intermittent access to water for around 12 to 36 hours each week, according to Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Al Najjar. In rural areas, that figure is much worse, with these households seeing 12 to 36 hours of water every three weeks, according to Secretary General of the Water Authority Bashar Bataineh. What is causing this, and why is Jordan’s situation regarding water security so dire?

Jordan has a significant level of non-revenue water — known in short as NRW — which is water that is either lost or not paid for. On average throughout Jordan, NRW is 50 percent of what is produced, with leakage of water from the pipes accounting for 40 percent of that.

In simple terms, this means that for every 100 liters that enters the system, 40 liters is lost to the ground.

Bringing in more water supplies with the current situation will be economically disastrous and should not — and cannot — be considered as solution to Jordan’s current situation. In order for any contribution to the country’s water security to be sustainable, its NRW has to be reduced for long-term safety and benefit to its people.

Estimates by UNICEF place non-revenue water levels at 52 percent in the Kingdom. Since this is a key focus area for MIYA’s business plan, what exactly is non-revenue water?

NRW is water that is not charged for and is lost from the system. This is not restricted to just leakage from pipes; it also includes theft, meter reading errors, lack of meter quality and not all water being registered, in addition to other things, such as missed connections and non-billed customers.

In many instances with a planned and operated NRW project, sufficient water is available to deliver a constant supply to customers.

With reduced commercial losses, more revenue will go to the water company itself, meaning less reliance on subsidies from the government or outside financial institutions. At MIYA, we are proven experts in solving these issues.

With countless water operators in the world, what makes MIYA unique among its competitors?

MIYA maintains high standards and has a scope and depth of work that differentiate us from our competitors. Because we are not the largest water company in the world, we are not as restricted by “red tape” as others may be.

In many cases, larger companies are restricted from managing problems as they happen and are not able to make swift, smart decisions to benefit the project while work is underway.

MIYA’s unique strategy is:

  • 3 to 5-year roadmap,
  • 10-year strategy,
  • 25-year vision.

This allows both MIYA and the client to work together towards long-term objectives while delivering on solutions in real-time.

MIYA has already completed 200 projects globally in its 15 years of experience. Which one of those projects has been the most successful?

Out of MIYA’s vast portfolio of work, there are three key projects that stand out the most.

These include our project with Maynilad in the Philippines, where we reduced NRW from 63 percent to 34 percent; our project with the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) in the Bahamas, which has already resulted in an average of 18 million liters of water saved per day; and our project with the National Water Commission (NWC) in Jamaica, where we have been able to reduce NRW enough to adequately supply an additional 600,000 people with water.

What efforts has Jordan already made to combat the alarming projections? How can MIYA take these efforts further?

Currently, Jordan is in the process of delivering possibly the largest ever project by bringing water from the Red Sea near Aqaba and pumping this desalinated water over to Amman.

To prevent this very expensive water from being lost in the current distribution system, Jordan has to consider and deliver a substantial plan to reduce losses before water enters the city; a plan to deliver water prior to reducing losses will be disastrous.

Stuart Hamilton, MIYA Director of International Business Development and Head of Non-Revenue Water

A recent Arab News Story indicates that local organizations are attempting land restoration and smart water harvesting in Jordan to combat further desertification. How does this work, and how can this complement the work that MIYA has planned?

In reality, any saving of water or using elements of rain water harvesting should be encouraged, as this prevents demand from being made to the distribution water system. There are many ways this can be completed, and MIYA supports and promotes all of these ideas and their implementation.

Given the severity of Jordan’s dwindling water supply, how long do you estimate it would take before its citizens see measurable improvements?

If Jordan, especially Amman and the surrounding area, starts a program of reducing NRW and real losses, then some benefits will start to be seen in as little as six months. More significant, long-term benefits can take three to five years before they are felt by the larger community. For NRW (non-revenue water) projects of this size, significant work and investment need to be dedicated to repairs and pipe renewal, which takes time.

In short, the sooner a project is started, the sooner more of Jordan’s people will have regular access to water.

Once a project is completed, how will MIYA ensure the long-term operational functionality of the resulting solutions?

At MIYA, we are all about transferring knowledge to the host companies, equipping their staff with the technical know-how and tools to capitalize on our success. Once our project is completed, this will allow the host water company to continue delivering on our promises, ensuring the longevity of our solutions and positioning the water company as a regional leader in the water sector.

What do you personally envision for Jordan’s water future?

In all honesty, Jordan’s future has a very grim outlook if the problem continues to be ignored over the next few years. It is a downward spiral that has to not only be stopped, but reversed. The longer the spiral picks up speed without serious intervention, the longer it will take to stop.

The best possible intervention at this stage for Jordan is a massive NRW project — one of a magnitude and quality that only MIYA has the expertise in providing.

By Adam Robertson

Interested in learning more about MIYA and its solutions to Jordan’s water crisis? Be sure to read Venture’s complete four-part series at the links below: