By PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 1 Sept 2010
EVEN as the UAE produces nearly 14 per cent of the world’s desalinated water, demand for water in the country is expected to double and reach 9 billion cubic metres by the end of 2030, reveals the federal environmental watchdog.
According to this body, the cost of annual production of desalinated water in the UAE has been estimated at around Dhs11.8 billion — Dhs7.16 per cubic metre.
The Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) has called for implementing integrated national-level programmes to preserve water resources by reducing water depletion, rationalising consumption, and protecting ecosystems.
“The woes due to the scarcity of hygienic water could, otherwise, be the most severe issue in the future,” warns a senior MoEW official.
Dr Maryam Hassan Al Shenasi, Executive Director for Technical Affairs at MoEW, observed, “It’s time to replace traditional agricultural irrigation practices with new irrigation methods and efficient use of advanced techniques like solar energy to significantly reduce water use at farms across the country.”
“As the UAE has relatively weak groundwater reserves, it heavily relies on the desalination of sea water to meet the mass requirement of drinking water, she said.
According to her, in 2008, the entire UAE consumed around 4.5 billion cubic metres of water from both the desalinated stock and underground reserves. The per capita water consumption in the region was at over 150 gallons a year in the same year.
“The country desalinates water at 70 stations across the country. 67 per cent of the total desalinated water production happens in the capital emirate of Abu Dhabi. Dubai stands second in water desalination at 18 per cent, Sharjah comes in the third at 10 per cent, and the rest is produced by other emirates,” elaborated Dr Al Shenasi.
She noted, “The MoEW has planned a set of initiatives to preserve the water resources, to be launched by the beginning of 2011, by introducing efficient energy-consuming vegetable production plans equipped with modern technologies for farming.”
“The UAE can only address its water scarcity and depletion issues and ensure the availability of quality and clean water through national level integrated strategies for environment conservation, protection of water resources of surface, groundwater and sea water and enhancing water security,” she added.
“The largest user of the water in the UAE is the agricultural sector, where the water consumption is at 34 per cent. It’s followed by domestic and industrial sectors at 32 per cent, and forestry at 15 per cent, and landscaping at 11 per cent,” pointed out Dr Al Shenasi.
“The country’s main water supply from the groundwater source is estimated at 51 per cent, and from desalinated sources at 37 per cent, while the treated water is at 12 per cent,” she added.
(Pic by Prasahanth Mukunthan)