It was fabulous to be back in Jordan at the end of May, before Ramadan or the real heat this year.  I enjoyed the Centennial celebration of Jordanian independence with a date milkshake at Wild Jordan as we watched the flyovers around the Old City.  It was also nice to grab some Zalatimo’s Sweets as gifts from their shop around the corner from my hotel.  Another memorable element besides catching up with friends was finally visiting Jerash (Gerasa) before sunset one day after work. Jerash has been hosting humans since the Bronze Age and has fabulous Roman antiquities. I particularly enjoyed the Hippodrome.

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As Samra (c) Kathryn Pharr

As Samra (c) Kathryn Pharr

This work trip included a tour of the As-Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant. Before I started my job, which includes water and sanitation issues, I had never visited a Wastewater treatment plant. This facility was just as innovative and impressive as DC Water’s Blue Plains. As-Samra’s completion of its expansion includes technology so that while overlooking the site, you cannot smell anything. (A colleague assured me it had smelled pungently before.) The amount of effort and engineering that ensures humans and ecosystems have safe water should not be undervalued and yet it so often is.

Another point where I noticed the effects of humans (less positively) was in the shocking decrease of the Dead Sea’s water level from my last trip in 2008 to Amman Beach Tourism Resort, Restaurant & Pools, which includes day access to a nice pool area, showers, and the Dead Sea. For 3 JD, you could coat yourself in Dead Sea mud and then wash it off in the Dead Sea (recycling, right?). On the right below, you can see how much closer the water is to the pool back in 2008. The left photo demonstrates how far we had to walk after coming down from the pool area. Eight years ago, that was all covered in salty water! (Yes, the sand was very, very hot.) Additionally, the resort had removed the fountain that was part of the pool area back in 2008. These were just small examples underlying the water security reports that continue to come out warning of increasing water scarcity in the Middle East.

 

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