Description of pilot area
The study area of Jordan Valley (JV) extends from Lake Tiberia in the north to the Dead Sea in the south (Figure 1). The area includes 30 thousand ha of irrigated lands that use both surface and groundwater resources. Jordan Valley is located below the mean sea surface level and the lowest point on earth is the Dead Sea where the altitude reaches 450 m below the mean sea surface level. As such, the area has a sub-tropical environment with warm winters and hot summers. From north to south, the average monthly minimum temperature is 13-15°C in January and the average monthly maximum temperature is 32-39°C in August. The warm climate suits the cultivation of vegetables, banana, citrus and fruit trees. Vegetables are grown during winter and spring seasons in open fields and under plastic houses, while the warm climate all over the year enhanced farmers to cultivate citrus, vineyards and date palm. The total irrigated area, updated to 2019, is 28.4 thousand ha, with vegetable crops forming 45% of the total irrigated area (Figure 2).
The area of JV was developed in 1957 when King Abdulla Canal (KAC) was constructed to deliver water to farm units located inside different development zones (DZ), served through pumping stations. The main source of water for KAC is Yarmouk River and the dams on side wadis on the east, while Jordan River has no fresh water resources and carries return flow and drainage water from the western parts of Jordan Valley. Irrigation scheme in the study area depends on KAC, which receives its water from different sources. The JV irrigation scheme consists of 53 DZs, each is divided into farm units that have an average size around 35 dunums (3.5 ha). Water distribution and management is the responsibility of Jordan Valley Authority (JVA), while farmers associations operate water-pumping stations. Water is delivered to the farms units by 29 pumping stations and a network of pipes and canals that have an end user outlet, called a farm turnout assembly. Ditches and the pressurized irrigation pipelines convey water to irrigated farm units. The amounts Water distributed by JVA to farm units is based on estimated crop water consumption and availability of water supplies during the season. The quotas (20% less than demand) correspond to 360, 765 and 1255 mm for vegetables, citrus and bananas, respectively.