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Abu Dhabi aquifer to store water for 100 years

From October, the EAD will start filling the first man-made underground water storage facility in the emirate, with seven million gallons of desalinated water.

By Silvia Radan/staff Reporter

Published: Thu 11 Jun 2015, 1:53 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:10 PM

Abu Dhabi — A decade-long wait is over. Abu Dhabi will soon have the first man-made aquifer, which can store fresh water up to 100 years.

Come this October, the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) will start filling the first man-made underground water storage facility in the emirate, with seven million gallons of desalinated water.

A project that took over a decade to complete, the first underground water storage, located in Liwa, in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, will be completed in October — ready to be injected daily with fresh, potable desalinated water.

And after 27 days, the Liwa aquifer will reach its full, planned capacity of five billion gallons of water, which will be used only in case of extreme emergency.

Dr Mohammed Dawoud, Water Resources advisor for EAD said: “In case of an emergency, we can extract the water and supply it to Abu Dhabi and its surrounding areas using the existing water pipelines. The five billion gallons aquifer would be able to supply 180 litres of water per person per day for 90 days.”

The first thought was building water reservoirs, but after plenty of studies, they were deemed economically and environmentally unsuitable.

“To store five billion gallons of water, enough for emergencies only for 90 days, we would need to build 2,000 reservoirs. Apart from the expense, imagine how much land it would be needed,” said Al Dawoud.

“Also, in reservoirs water is stagnant and opened to air pollution, so after five to seven days it would need changing. In aquifers, water can be stored up to 100 years.”

Once the Liwa aquifer will be filled with water, work will start for a second one, which will be built in Al Ain area, thus having both the eastern and the western regions of the emirate covered in case of an emergency.

The EAD started considering having water reserves for the emirate as scarcity of water became an increasingly realistic threat all over the world.

The environment agency began researching Abu Dhabi emirate’s underground water resources and found the little underground water reserves left were very high in salinity.

Only two fresh water ones were found, one in Liwa, and another near Al Ain, and these were the two spots selected to built on the existing natural aquifers.

In 2003, the EAD began the pilot project in Liwa and for five months it kept injecting the underground reserve with desalinated water for a few days, then extract it to check the quality.

After three years of assessments, the full scheme project was finally given the green light.

In case of a severe drought or any other emergency, the water inside the aquifer may be extracted using especially built recovery wells. Altogether, there are 105 recovery wells, but only 70 of them designated to be operated, the rest being used as back up. — silvia@khaleejtimes.com

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