Overview of Sludge Management in Jordan and Potential for Biosolids Land Application

Author: Rania Taha

Email: rania_taha@live.com

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a country located in the Middle East. With an annual per capita water share of 140 m3, Jordan falls within the “absolute water scarcity” category. (1)

In 2013, a total of 31 wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) were reported to be either already established or under construction in all Jordan. The majority of these WWTPs include either an activated sludge treatment, trickling filters or waste stabilization ponds. (2)

With 71% of the Jordanian population residing in the capital city Amman and the governorates of Irbid and Zarqa (3) As-Samra WWTP is one of the major WWTPs in Jordan. Located in the Zarqa Governorate, As-Samra WWTP receives more than 60% of the total municipal wastewater produced in Jordan serving both; Amman and Zarqa. To accommodate for the increasing demand, As-Samra WWTP is currently undergoing expansion to reach a daily capacity of 367,000 m3. It will operate “anaerobic digesters to stabilize sludge, which will then be dewatered using the Belt Filter Press system.” The governorate of Irbid, on the other hand, operates its own WWTP with a daily design capacity of 11,023 m3. It operates a tricking filter and an activated sludge process. (2)

Currently, Jordan has explored four alternatives as possible sludge management alternatives: land application, incineration for energy generation, use by the cement industry, and landfilling. This blog will only shed the light on the land application alternative. Land application in Jordan includes fodder and fruit tree farming and rangeland restoration.

In Jordan, rangelands are defined as lands where the annual rainfall does not exceed 200 mm and no irrigation takes place. Rangelands have deteriorated considerably over the last 20 years and thus, have been targeted for restoration activities since the early 2000s. (2) These activities have been planned to include field interventions (e.g. water harvesting, plantations) as well as improved management practices (e.g. prevention of overgrazing) to improve the vegetative cover. (2) However, poor soil structural stability and its low nutrient content have been obstacles to field interventions.

In 2006, a Technical Regulation (JS 1145/2006) on the Uses of Treated Sludge and Sludge Disposal was issued. JS 1145/2006 regulated the entire cycle of sludge production to its reuse as a soil fertilizer (for fodder and fruit tree farming) or soil conditioner (for rangeland restoration) or its disposal in landfills.

JS 1145/2006 specified thresholds for parameters that determine the quality of treated sludge (biosolids). Accordingly, it would be classified into three classes; class (1) being that of the highest quality suitable for fodder and fruit tree farming as well as rangeland restoration, class (2) being suitable only for rangeland restoration and finally, class (3) not suitable for neither and to be landfilled.

JS 1145/2006 went into further details to address methods and quantities for land application (e.g. tons of biosolids to be applied per hectare, mixing with top soil, etc), environmental and public health requirements (e.g. proximity to water bodies, maximum land slope, land use before and after application, signage etc) as well as considerations for monitoring and control authorities. (2)

However, despite the presence of a legislative framework to regulate the land application of biosolids, it has not been implemented. In 2009 and subsequently in 2011, instructions were issued banning the production and use of organic fertilizers from materials originating from WWTPs. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that authorities are currently in the process of reviewing the technical regulations related to sludge management and the reuse of biosolids.


 Figure 1 One of the Rangelands Located in Zarqa Governorate

Jordan2Figure 2 One of the fodder farms in Zarqa Governorate


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