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  • Closed Compact Report:  Closed Compact Report: Jordan Compact
  • September 2018

As-Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion Project

  • $93,030,000Original Compact Project Amount
  • $97,882,950Total Disbursed

Estimated Benefits

Estimated benefits are included in the Wastewater Network Project table.

Project Summary

The As-Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant was constructed in 2008 with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to replace the highly polluting waste stabilization pond system outside Amman, and is the primary facility for treating wastewater from Jordan’s Amman and Zarqa Governorates. However, the demands of a growing population had pushed the capacity of the plant to its limits. Without an expansion to properly handle the region’s growing volume of wastewater, the plant would be overloaded, its ability to treat wastewater would deteriorate, and downstream agricultural areas that rely on treated water for irrigation would face serious food safety risks and the loss of markets for agricultural products. The objectives of the As-Samra Expansion Project were to (i) increase the capacity to treat wastewater from Amman and Zarqa Governorates, (ii) increase the volume of treated wastewater that is available as a substitute for freshwater for non-domestic use, and (iii) protect existing agriculture from the potential consequences of pollution from untreated wastewater.

Under a project finance public-private partnership, with help and a funding commitment from MCC, the plant underwent an expansion and technological upgrades, which allowed the Government to treat 70 percent of the country’s wastewater and meet the region’s wastewater treatment needs through 2025.The plant has improved the long-term sludge management and disposal practices and helped preserve Jordan’s scarce water resources. The expanded plant provides 133 million cubic meters of high-quality treated water per year – equivalent to over 10 percent of Jordan’s entire annual water resources – for irrigation in the Jordan Valley.

At the end of the compact, approximately 375,000 households (2,023,000 individuals) in the Zarqa Governorate and neighboring Amman benefitted from the project through additional supplies of freshwater transferred to these areas as larger volumes of treated wastewater were made available for substitution in agricultural applications in the Jordan Valley. This included approximately 8,500 households in the Jordan Valley (46,000 individuals) that receive consistent supplies of high-quality treated wastewater that can be used for irrigation. The As-Samra plant also provides bio-solids for potential reuse in fertilizer and fuel, and produces nearly 13 megawatts of energy, or 80 percent of its own energy needs, from biogas and hydropower, making it one of the most modern and energy efficient treatment plants in the Middle East.

Additionally, unused budget identified during implementation of other parts of the compactwas reallocated to the project to purchase four high pressure jetting sewage cleaners enhance system maintenance and capacity, thereby leading to a longer life-span of the sewage lines. More information can be found in the Compact Changes section below.

The project was financed as a public private partnership using a build-operate-transfer arrangement. In these arrangements, a government assigns responsibility to a private sector entity to finance, design, build, operate, and maintain the facility for a certain period. The As-Samra expansion was financed in partnership with the Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant Company Limited (SPC), a private company that built the original plant and operates it under a concession from the Government of Jordan. Under this arrangement, the compact covered half the cost of construction, while SPC mobilized debt and equity funding to cover the remaining construction costs, along with project development and design, project management, and interest costs. Due to the grant nature of MCC’s investment, the project was more affordable for the Government of Jordan and financially attractive for SPC and Jordanian banks. MCC’s grant did not subsidize the private sector, as the private investors earn a return only on their investment.MCC’s involvement also reduced the cost of capital, allowing lower water and wastewater tariffs to consumers than might otherwise had been necessary. Through this financing method, the private sector not only provided over 50 percent of the cost of construction, but it assured the Government that the facility will be operated and maintained at world class standards for 25 years. At the end of the concession period, in 2037, the agreement requires that the facility be transferred back to the Government of Jordan in good working order and at no additional cost. The project won international awards, including the “Water and Energy Exchange International Award for Innovative Financing,” and the “Best Water Project Award” by World Finance Magazine.

The project represented MCC’s first major participation in a build-operate-transfer agreement, and its role in providing what is referred to as “viability gap funding” was critical to expanding As-Samra. MCC also provided grant funding for the Jordanian government to hire transaction advisors to assist the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in the project’s commercial negotiations.

Key Performance Indicators and Outputs at Compact End Date

Key performance indicators and outputs at compact end date
Activity/Outcome Key Performance Indicators Baseline End of Compact Target Quarter 1 through Quarter 20 Actuals Percent Compact Target Satisfied
As-Samra Expansion Project

Outcome: Increase the volume of treated wastewater available as a substitute for freshwater in agricultural use

Treated wastewater used in agriculture (%) 61 70 71 111%
Quality of As-Samra effluent meets standard (days) 0 0 [[The goal of MCC’s investment was to sustain the quality of As-Samra’s effluent and avert any potential for contaminated discharge. This is reflected in the 0 baseline and 0 target.]] 100%
Volume of waste water effluent discharged from the As-Samra plant per year (cubic meters) 65,000,000 99,000,000 109,445,676.78 131%
Agriculture use of treated wastewater (hectares) 13,700 15,900 12,100 -73%
Expansion of As-Samra Treatment Plant (%) 0 100 100 100%

Explanation of Benefits as of Compact End Date

As of compact end date, the As-Samra Expansion Project successfully increased the amount of clean, treated water (quality effluent) available to farmers for irrigation in the Jordan Valley. Despite the increase in available treated water, agriculture use of treated wastewater by farmers in the Jordan Valley fell over the course of the compact. This reflects a broader decline within the Jordan Valley in the total number of hectares under cultivation. See “Evaluation Findings” for information on how this trend developed after the compact.

Evaluation Findings

Independent evaluations for the Jordan Compact covered more than one project. The results of each independent evaluation, which is included below.

Jordan Water Infrastructure Evaluation

In line with the cost benefit analysis, the evaluation measured three key benefits that were expected to arise as a result of the compact investments in Jordan. The key evaluations questions and key findings are stated below. More detail can be found in the final independent evaluation report and summarized in the evaluation brief.

Evaluation Questions:

  1. Water Supply: Did the compact investments result in increased irrigation with additional blended water (freshwater + wastewater) in the Jordan Valley? Is the volume of irrigation using freshwater correspondingly decreasing? What reallocation of water is made possible by the compact investments?
  2. Water Consumption: Did the WNP change the quantity of water consumed by households and enterprises in Zarqa (through reduced leaks and increased reliability)? Did the WNP affect time and money expenditure on water for consumers in Zarqa?
  3. Utility Performance: Did the net cost recovery of the utility improve due to the compact, and is this related to service improvements? Did the WWNP change consumer expenditure on wastewater management and disease prevention and treatment?

Key Findings

  • Water Supply
    • MCC expanded Zarqa’s sewer networks, resulting in 5 million m3/per year more wastewater flowing to the As-Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant compared to what would have happened without the compact. This water was successfully treated by As-Samra and released to farmers in the Jordan Valley, which freed up more freshwater for consumers in Zarqa.
    • Farmers in the Jordan Valley increased use of blended water (a mix of treated wastewater and freshwater) for irrigation as a result of WWNP efforts. Farmers did report declining quality in their irrigation water compared to controls, although total farm revenues did not decline.
    • This increased use of additional treated wastewater for irrigation allowed more fresh water (4-6 million m3/year, which is 0.5% of total national water use/year) to be supplied to urban areas in Jordan, and this amount may continue to increase over time reaching as much as 11 m3/year by 2050.
  • Water Consumption
    • Billed consumption increased by 2-3 m3/quarter per connection, though some of this change was due to more accurate meter reading. There was no evidence that residents spent less on alternative, more expensive water sources, such as bottled water, an objective of the compact. The theory that consumers would shift towards utility water and away from such other water sources, thus saving time and money, did not materialize.
  • Utility Performance
    • The Jordan Compact appears to have improved the Zarqa water utility performance, reducing administrative losses (via water meter replacement) and non-revenue water, or NRW (water that the utility does not collect payment for because of theft, billing errors, or leaks). However, decreases in NRW lagged expectations, perhaps due to lack of complete isolation of the improved network from the old network, or illicit water use.
    • Utility revenue increased, but so did costs. However, these changes may be due to the utility’s privatization rather than the compact.
    • Operating costs rose. This was because compact infrastructure was not fully operated as expected, using more pumping than expected, relative to gravity-fed distribution, and because of the costs of additional wastewater management. Energy costs also rose more than expected. Finally, the pumping of expensive water from the Disi aquifer also increased costs over time, though this increase was expected.

Water Smart Homes Evaluation

An additional evaluation was conducted on the Water Smart Homes (WSH) component of the Jordan Compact investments, the evaluation questions and key findings of which are stated below. More detail can be found in the final independent evaluation report and summarized in the evaluation brief.

Evaluation Questions

  1. Did the WSH Outreach Campaign lead to significant changes in household water handling and storage that manifested in a) improved water potability and b) improved water efficiency at the household level?
  2. Did the WSH Infrastructure Works Program lead to infrastructure improvements among beneficiaries?
  3. Did National Aid Fund (NAF) beneficiaries experience economic benefits from these infrastructure and behavioral changes, specifically through reduced coping costs, increased household productivity, and/or improved health and well-being?
  4. Did the plumbers training portion of the Water Smart Homes intervention lead to long term capacity and employment opportunities for the women who participated?

Key Findings

  • Outreach Campaign: Message Recall and Response
    • No evidence that households recalled the messages from the Water Smart Homes outreach campaign.
    • The WSH outreach campaign messages did not lead to changes in household water handling or water sourcing.
    • The WSH outreach campaign did not contribute to the project objective of reducing water-related costs for households.
  • Household Water Infrastructure: Works Receipt and Usage
    • Most households targeted for infrastructure home improvements in water storage, water delivery, and sanitation received them, and still had them four years later.
    • Targeted households did not appear to use more piped water relative to non-targeted households but were 9 percentage points less likely to use tanker water.
    • There was no evidence of changes in household water-related costs, productivity, health, or well-being.
    • The WSH infrastructure improvement investments did not contribute to the project objective of reducing water-related costs. 
  • Women Plumber Program
    • 17 of the 26 trainees interviewed were still working as plumbers four years later (there were 30 trainees in total from the project).
    • Trainees’ median personal income increased by 70 Jordanian Dinars/month, and their household income also increased, though this could have been due to factors other than the training.
    • While these results are positive, the women plumber program was always logically disconnected from the project objective of decreasing household water costs and therefore did not contribute to achieving it.

 Status of the evaluations: 

Component Status
Water Infrastructure Evaluation
Baseline Report Published in 2017
Midline Report Published in 2019 
Final Report Published in 2020
Water Smart Homes Evaluation
Final Report Published in 2020