Zarqa River pollution: impact on its quality

  • Abbas Al-OmariEmail author
  • Ibrahim Farhan
  • Tariq Kandakji
  • Fida’a Jibril


Pollutants released to the Zarqa River have been identified, quantified, and linked to their sources. The methodology included field observation of the river, collection of available quality data, literature review, and grab sampling. Identified pollution sources to the Zarqa River are wastewater treatment plants, overflow of wastewater pumping stations, and leaks from sewer lines and manholes that pass through the riverbed, in addition to industrial, commercial, domestic, and agricultural activities along the river course. The main pollutants released to the river from these sources are organics, nutrients, heavy metals, raw wastewater, solids, and solid waste. The results showed that the concentrations of organics, total nitrogen, and total phosphorus in the river are within the Jordanian standards for reclaimed water use in restricted irrigation. Between the river confluence with As Samra wastewater treatment plant effluent and King Talal Dam, where the river water is used for restricted irrigation, B, Cr, Mn, and Ni have exceeded the Jordanian guidelines for reclaimed water use in irrigation; however, frequencies of exceedances were low. Immediately downstream of King Talal Dam, cadmium and nickel concentrations have exceeded the recommended limits once, while boron concentration has exceeded the recommended limit 15 times during the sampling period between 2003 and 2010. However, exceedances in this zone are expected to disappear after the river water mixes with King Abdulla Canal freshwater. The mixed water is then used for unrestricted irrigation in the middle Jordan Valley. Upstream of As Samra, where exceedances occurred more frequently, groundwater is used for irrigation.


As Samra wastewater treatment plant River pollution River water quality The Zarqa River Water pollution 


Funding information

The authors received funding for this research from the scientific research support fund in Jordan (Grant number 2010\07\01\ه).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Abderahman, N., & Abu-Rukah, Y. (2006). An assessment study of heavy metal distribution within soil in upper course of the Zarqa River basin/Jordan. Environmental Geology, 49(8), 1116–1124.Google Scholar
  2. Abdulla, F., & Al-Omari, A. (2008). Impact of climate change on the monthly runoff of a semi-arid catchment: case study Zarqa River basin (Jordan). Journal of Applied Biological Sciences, 2(1), 43–50.Google Scholar
  3. Abdulla, F., Eshtawi, T., & Assaf, H. (2009). Assessment of the impact of potential climate change on the water balance of semi-arid watershed. Water Resources Management, 23(10), 2051–2068.Google Scholar
  4. Aboulhassan, M., Souabi, S., Yaacoubi, A., & Baudu, M. (2014). Treatment of paint manufacturing wastewater by the combination of chemical and biological processes. International Journal of Science, Environment and Technology, 3(5), 1747–1758.Google Scholar
  5. Al Wer, I. (2009). The Zarqa River rehabilitation and sustainable management. Master’s thesis, Land and Water Resources Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden.Google Scholar
  6. Al-Abed, N., & Al-Sharif, M. (2008). Hydrological modeling of Zarqa River basin–Jordan using the hydrological simulation program—FORTRAN (HSPF) model. Water Resources Management, 22(9), 1203–1220.Google Scholar
  7. Al-Abed, N., Abdulla, F., & Abu Khyarah, A. (2005). GIS-hydrological models for managing water resources in the Zarqa River basin. Environmental Geology, 47(3), 405–411.Google Scholar
  8. Al-Haddadin, M. (2002). Drought assessment and management for selected water resources basins in Jordan using Geographic Information System (GIS). MS thesis, Civil Engineering Department, University for Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan.Google Scholar
  9. Al-Houri, Z. , Al-Omari, A. , Ramadan, K., Shakaa, H. (2011). Quality of highway runoff at two locations in Amman City: a preliminary investigation. Proceedings of the International Conference on Environment and Bioscience (CCEA 2011), 21–23, October, Cairo Egypt.Google Scholar
  10. Al-Husban, Y. (2014). Monitoring the geomorphological characteristics of the lower Zarqa River changes in Jordan, during the time period from 1963 to 2011. International Journal of Applied Environmental Sciences, 9, 153–164.Google Scholar
  11. Allan, J. D. (2004). Landscapes and riverscapes: the influence of land use on stream ecosystems. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics, 35, 257–284.Google Scholar
  12. Al-Omari, A., Al-Quraan, S., Al-Salihi, A., & Abdulla, F. (2009). Water management support system for Amman Zarqa basin in Jordan. Water Resources Management, 23, 3165–3189.Google Scholar
  13. Al-Omari, A., Al-houri, Z., & Al-Weshah, R. (2013). Impact of the As Samra wastewater treatment plant upgrade on the water quality (COD, electrical conductivity, TP, TN) of the Zarqa River. Water Science and Technology, 67(7), 1455–1464.Google Scholar
  14. Al-Omari, A., Farhan, I., Kandakji, T., Jibril, F. (2017). Pollution sources to Zarqa River: their impact on the river water quality as a source of irrigation water. Proceedings of the workshop, water perspectives in emerging countries: water use in MENA countries 2017, November 03–08, 2017, Marrakech, Morocco.Google Scholar
  15. Al-Omari, A., Al-Bakri, J., Hindiyeh, M., Al-Houri, Z., Farhan, I., & Jibril, F. (2018). Intgerated hydrologic and quality model for Zarqa River basin in Jordan. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, 27(2), 4637–4646.Google Scholar
  16. Al-Tarazi, E., Abu Rajab, J., Al-Naqa, A., & El-Waheid, M. (2008). Detecting leachate plumes and groundwater pollution at Ruseifa municipal landfill utilizing VLF-EM method. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 65, 121–131.Google Scholar
  17. Arceivala, S. J. (1981). Wastewater treatment and disposal. New York: Marcel Dekker Inc..Google Scholar
  18. Arunlertaree, C., Kaewsomboon, W., Kumsopa, A., Pokethitiyook, P., & Panyawathanakit, P. (2007). Removal of lead from battery manufacturing wastewater by egg shell, Songklanakarin. Journal of Science and Technology, 29(3), 857–868.Google Scholar
  19. Associates in Rural Development Inc (ARD) (2001). The water resource policy support activity. A report submitted to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Amman, Jordan.Google Scholar
  20. Aukour, F., & Al-Qinna, M. (2008). Marble production and environmental constrains: case study from Zarqa governorate, Jordan. Jordan Journal of Earth and Environmental Sciences, 1(1), 11–21.Google Scholar
  21. Aydin, S., Çelik, Y., Guneysu, S., & Arayici, S. (2010). Evaluation of methods and efficiencies of industrial wastewater treatment in Turkey. King Saud University Journal of Engineering Sciences, 13(2), 12–25.Google Scholar
  22. B & E Engineers and Arabic International Center for Environmental Health (AICEH) (2008). Zarqa River basin wastewater and solid waste treatment project. Accessed 07 January 2019.
  23. Bautista, P., Mohedano, A., Gilarranz, M., Casas, J., & Rodriguez, J. (2007). Application of fenton oxidation to cosmetic wastewaters treatment. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 143(1–2), 128–134.Google Scholar
  24. Bernhardt, E. S., Palmer, M. A., Allan, J. D., Alexander, G., Barnas, K., Brooks, S., Carr, J., Clayton, S., Dahm, C., Follstad-Shah, J., Galat, D., Gloss, S., Goodwin, P., Hart, D., Hassett, B., Jenkinson, R., Katz, S., Kondolf, G. M., Lake, P. S., Lave, R., Meyer, J. L., O'donnell, T., Pagano, L., Powell, B., & Sudduth, E. (2005). Synthesizing US river restoration efforts. Science, 308(5722), 636–637.Google Scholar
  25. Bond, R. G., & Straub, C. P. (1974). Wastewater treatment and disposal. Cleveland: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  26. Bustillo-Lecompte, C., Mehrvar, C., & Quiñones-Bolaños, E. (2016). Slaughterhouse wastewater characterization and treatment: an economic and public health necessity of the meat processing industry in Ontario, Canada. Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 4, 175–186.Google Scholar
  27. Canter, L. W., Knox, R. C., & Fairchild, D. M. (1987). Groundwater quality protection. Chelsea: Lewis Publishers.Google Scholar
  28. Chapman, D. (1996). Water quality assessments - a guide to use of biota, sediments and water in environmental monitoring -second edition. Published on behaf of UNESCO/WHO/UNEP. Chapman and Hall.Google Scholar
  29. Colangelo, D. J., & Jones, B. L. (2005). Phase I of the Kissimmee River restoration project, Florida, USA: impacts of construction on water quality. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 102(1–3), 139–158.Google Scholar
  30. Correll, D. L. (1999). Phosphorus: a rate limiting nutrient in surface waters. Poultry Science, 78, 674–682.Google Scholar
  31. Dale, V. H., Brown, S., Haeuber, R. A., Hobbs, N. T., Huntly, N., Naiman, R. J., Riebsame, W. E., Turner, M. G., & Valone, T. J. (2000). Ecological principles and guidelines for managing the use of land. Ecological Applications, 10(3), 639–670.Google Scholar
  32. Dimoglo, A., Akbulut, H. Y., Cihan, F., & Karpuzcu, M. (2004). Petrochemical wastewater treatment by means of clean electrochemical technologies. Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, 6(4), 288–295.Google Scholar
  33. Dodds, W. K. (2006). Eutrophication and trophic state in rivers and streams. Limnology Oceanography, 51(1), 671–680.Google Scholar
  34. Dodds, W. K., & Oakes, R. M. (2004). A technique for establishing reference nutrient concentrations across watersheds impacted by humans. Limnology Oceanography, 2(10), 333–341.Google Scholar
  35. El-Gohary, F. A., Nawar, S. S., & Ali, H. I. (1986). Treatment of wastewater from a detergent and soap factory - case study. Studies in Environmental Science, 29, 113–124.Google Scholar
  36. El-Naqa, A. (2005). Environmental impact assessment using rapid impact assessment matrix (RIAM) for Russeifa landfill, Jordan. Environmental Geology, 47, 632–639.Google Scholar
  37. Environmental Protection Agency-Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (EPA-OGWDW (2008). Regulatory determinations support document for selected contaminants from the second drinking water contaminant candidate list: EPA Report 815-R-08-012: Chapter 3:Boron.Google Scholar
  38. EPA-OGWDW (2008). Regulatory determinations support document for selected contaminants from the second drinking water contaminant candidate list (CCL 2) Part II.Google Scholar
  39. Executive Action Team (EXACT) (1994). Middle East water data banks project: overview of Middle East water resources. Accessed 07 January 2019.
  40. Furse, J. B., Davis, L. J., Bull, L. A. (1996). Habitat use and movements of largemouth bass associated with changes in dissolved oxygen and hydrology in Kissimmee River. Proceedings of the Annual Conference/Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 50, 12–25, Florida.Google Scholar
  41. Gan, H., Zhuo, M., Li, D., & Zhou, Y. (2008). Quality characterization and impact assessment of highway runoff in urban and rural area of Guangzhou, China. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 140(1–3), 147–159.Google Scholar
  42. Hilton, J., & Irons, G. P. (1998). Determining the causes of “apparent eutrophication” effects. Bristol: Environment Agency.Google Scholar
  43. Hopkins, R. L. (2009). Use of landscape pattern metrics and multiscale data in aquatic species distribution models: a case study of a freshwater mussel. Landscape Ecology, 24(7), 943–955.Google Scholar
  44. Howe, P. D. (1998). A review of boron effects in the environment. Biological Trace Element Research, 66, 153–166.Google Scholar
  45. Hussein, F. (2013). Chemical properties of treated textile dying wastewater. Asian Journal of Chemistry, 25(16), 9393–9400.Google Scholar
  46. Hynes, H. B. (1970). The Ecology of running waters. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.Google Scholar
  47. International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Interdisciplinary Research Consultants (IdRC) (2006). The integrated environmental management of the Zarqa River: a proposal for restoration of the Zarqa River. Final report.Google Scholar
  48. Jaradat, Q. M., Momani, K. A., Jiries, A. G., El-Alali, A., Batarseh, M. I., Sabri, T. G., & Al Momani, I. F. (1999). Chemical composition of urban wet deposition in Amman, Jordan. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 112, 55–65.Google Scholar
  49. Jiries, A., Helmi, H., & Halaseh, Z. (2001). The quality of water and sediments of street runoff in Amman, Jordan. Hydrological Processes, 15(5), 815–824.Google Scholar
  50. Jordanian Standards for reclaimed water use in irrigation 2006/893 (2006).Google Scholar
  51. Kaczala, F., Salomon, P., Marques, M., Hogland, W. (2012). Toxicity of wood leachates from Pinus sylvestris and Quercus robur on the microalgae Desmodesmus subspicatus, Linnaeus ECO-TECH conference, November 26–28, Kalmar Sweden.Google Scholar
  52. Khansorthong, S., & Hunsom, M. (2009). Remediation of wastewater from pulp and paper mill industry by the electrochemical technique. Chemical Engineering Journal, 151(1–3), 228–234.Google Scholar
  53. Kondolf, G. M., & Micheli, E. R. (1995). Evaluating stream evaluation projects. Environmental Management, 19(1), 1–15.Google Scholar
  54. Meyer, J. L., Paul, M. J., & Taulbee, W. K. (2005). Stream ecosystem function in urbanizing landscapes. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 24(3), 602–612.Google Scholar
  55. Mutamim, N., Noora, Z., Hassana, M., & Olssonb, G. (2012). Application of membrane bioreactor technology in treating high strength industrial wastewater: a performance review. Desalination, 305, 1–11.Google Scholar
  56. Nakamura, K., Tockner, K., & Amano, K. (2016). River and wetland restoration, lesson from Japan. Bioscience, 56(5), 419–429.Google Scholar
  57. Ozturk, N., & Kavak, D. (2005). Adsorption of boron from aqueous solutions using fly ash: batch and column studies. Journal of Hazardous Materials, B127, 81–88.Google Scholar
  58. Palmer, M. A., Menninger, H. L., & Bernhardt, E. S. (2010). River restoration, habitat heterogeneity and biodiversity: a failure of theory or practice? Freshwater Biology, 55, 205–222.Google Scholar
  59. Rahbeh, M. (1996). Rainfall-runoff relationships for Zarqa River. Master’s thesis, University of Jordan, Amman-Jordan.Google Scholar
  60. Remy, P., Muhr, H., Plasari, E., & Ouerdiane, I. (2005). Removal of boron from wastewater by precipitation of a sparingly soluble salt. Environmental Progress, 24(1), 105–110.Google Scholar
  61. Schirmer, M., Luster, J., Linde, N., Perona, P., Mitchell, E., Barry, D., Hollender, J., et al. (2014). Morphological, hydrological, biogeochemical and ecological changes and challenges in river restoration – the Thur River case study. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 18, 2449–2462.Google Scholar
  62. Smith, R. A., Alexander, R. B., & Schwarz, G. E. (2003). Natural background concentrations of nutrients in streams and rivers of the conterminous United States. Environmental Science and Technology, 37(14), 2039–3047 Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater (2012). 22nd edition.Google Scholar
  63. Ta’nago, M. G., Jalo’n, D. G., & Roma’n, M. (2012). River restoration in Spain: theoretical and practical approach in the context of the European water framework directive. Environmental Management, 50(1), 123–139.Google Scholar
  64. Tank, J. L., & Winterbourn, M. J. (1996). Microbial activity and invertebrate colonization of wood in a New Zealand forest stream. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 30(2), 271–280.Google Scholar
  65. Tariq, M., Ali, M., & Shah, Z. (2006). Characteristics of industrial effluents and their possible impacts on quality of underground water. Soil & Environment, 25(1), 64–69.Google Scholar
  66. Tisler, T., Zagorc-Koncan, J., Cotman, M., & Drolc, A. (2004). Toxicity potential of disinfection agent in tannery wastewater. Water Research, 38(16), 3503–3510.Google Scholar
  67. Toth, L. A. (1993). The ecological basis of the Kissimmee River restoration plan. Biological Sciences, 56(1), 25–51.Google Scholar
  68. Tran, C. P., Bode, R. W., Smith, A. J., & Kleppel, G. S. (2010). Land-use proximity as a basis for assessing stream water quality in New York state (USA). Ecological Indicators, 10(3), 727–733.Google Scholar
  69. Vaiopoulou, E., Melidis, P., & Aivasidis, A. (2005). Sulfide removal in wastewater from petrochemical industries by autotrophic denitrification. Water Research, 39(17), 4101–4109.Google Scholar
  70. Viswanathan, V. C., & Schirmer, M. (2015). Water quality deterioration as a driver for river restoration: a review of case studies from Asia, Europe and North America. Environmental Earth Sciences, 74, 3145–3158.Google Scholar
  71. Woolsey, S., Capelli, F., Gonser, T., Hoehn, E., Hostmann, M., Junker, B., Paetzold, A., et al. (2007). A strategy to assess river restoration success. Freshwater Biology, 52(4), 752–769.Google Scholar
  72. Zhou, T., Wu, J., & Peng, S. (2012). Assessing the effects of landscape pattern on river water quality at multiple scales: a case study of the Dongjiang River watershed, China. Ecological Indicators, 23, 166–175.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water, Energy and Environment CenterThe University of JordanAmmanJordan
  2. 2.Department of GeographyThe University of JordanAmmanJordan
  3. 3.College of AgricultureAmmanJordan
  4. 4.Royal Scientific SocietyAmmanJordan

Personalised recommendations