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Jordan's fossil water source has high radiation levels
Date:2/24/2009

DURHAM, N.C. -- Ancient groundwater being tapped by Jordan, one of the 10 most water-deprived nations in the world, has been found to contain twenty times the radiation considered safe for drinking water in a new study by an international team of researchers.

"The combined activities of 228 radium and 226 radium the two long-lived isotopes of radium in the groundwater we tested are up to 2000 percent higher than international drinking standards," said Avner Vengosh, associate professor of earth and ocean sciences in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

Making the water safe for long-term human consumption is possible, he said, but it will require extra steps to reduce its radioactivity.

Vengosh and his research team, made up of scientists from Jordan, Palestine, Israel and the United States, published their findings Feb. 19 in a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology. The paper is online at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es802969r.

Jordan's annual water use exceeds the natural replenishment of its major river, the Yarmouk, and its local aquifers that are becoming salinized as a result of over-pumping.

In 2007, the Jordanian government announced plans for a $600-million project to pump low-saline fossil groundwater from the Disi aquifer, located along the nation's remote southern border with Saudi Arabia, and pipe it 250 kilometers north to the capital, Amman, a city of 3.1 million people, and other population centers.

Fossil groundwater is a nonrenewable supply of water trapped underground in aquifers. In recent years, policymakers in countries facing chronic water shortages have increasingly viewed low-saline supplies of fossil groundwater as an important potential source of water for human and agricultural use. Libya and Saudi Arabia, for example, have relied extensively on f
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Contact: Tim Lucas
tdlucas@duke.edu
919-613-8084
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

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