Friday, 07 May 2021 01:20 GMT

Abu Dhabi must commit 2b for water desalination innovation

(MENAFN - Khaleej Times)

The emirate of Abu Dhabi needs to invest around $2 billion in desalination of water in the next five years to keep up with water demand.

While Abu Dhabi and therefore the UAE remains the world's largest consumer of water at 629 litres per person per day three times the world average the country's expected population and economic growth would trigger a substantial increase in water demand which would have to come from desalination plants as well as a source the UAE has so far left untapped - treated waste water.

Sustainable desalination and waste water treatment were at the forefront of the International Water Summit conference on Tuesday part of the ongoing Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

"The GCC has the world's largest installed capacity of water desalination - 35 per cent and the UAE alone has 12 per cent" said Alejandro Jimenez head of business development and projects at Abu Dhabi National Energy Company.

"Given the demand growth soon there will be a big gap to fill which will require significant investments which today were announced at 450 million imperial gallons per day [MIGD] for the next five years which would mean around $2 billion" he told Khaleej Times.

The GCC countries plan to increase their total desalination capacity by nearly 40 per cent in the next four years. Much of the demand for desalinated water comes from the domestic sector which stands at about 3300 MIGD but is expected to grow to 5200 MIGD by 2020.

Yet the Abu Dhabi government mandated the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) last year to come up with a water budget that would in fact reduce the consumption of desalinated water despite increasing demand.

"The water budget will minimise investment in future desalination plants by increasing water consumption efficiency and eliminating waste" pointed out Mohammed Dawoud manager of water resources at EAD.

According to him Abu Dhabi emirate's groundwater withdrawal exceeds 23 times the natural recharge rate.

Since most groundwater is used by agricultural farms and forests for irrigation - 63 per cent - the EAD and the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority have developed a crop calculator to optimise the allocation of groundwater used to irrigate crops.

Another game changer in the UAE's - and the region's - water needs is making use of recycled or treated waste water.

"Every 10 years the flow of sewage water is doubling in Abu Dhabi which is a phenomenal growth. If it carries on like this we'll end up in an infinite sewage situation which is not sustainable at all" said Malcolm Haddock planning and forecasting manager at the Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company.


Silvia Radan I'm a senior journalist with 22 years experience in all forms of mass media. Originally from Romania I lived and work in Bosnia Uzbekistan England and for the past 10 years in UAE. I specialize in art culture traditions heritage but also environment and the hospitality industry. I'm passionate about jazz and world music cinema mythology and offroading - I'm a marshal with one of UAE's offroading clubs!

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