Abu Dhabi strives to save groundwater resources

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Abu Dhabi strives to save groundwater resources

Abu Dhabi - EAD has started looking at technologies from around the world that address Abu Dhabi's specific needs in the efficient management and conservation of groundwater resources.


Silvia Radan

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Published: Wed 4 Nov 2015, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 6 Nov 2015, 7:55 AM

Despite efforts to more effectively manage groundwater resources, Abu Dhabi is confronted with increasing water scarcity. This was stated by Shaikha Al Mazrouei, acting executive director of Integrated Environment Policy and Planning at Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), at a workshop hosted by EAD.
"It is therefore essential for EAD and its partners to manage the supply and demand of groundwater in the emirate through a number of public policies that enable behavioural, structural and technological change to save water," she added.
EAD has started looking at technologies from around the world that address Abu Dhabi's specific needs in the efficient management and conservation of groundwater resources. Five different technologies were identified to start with and presented during the workshop held on Tuesday by EAD for policy makers, professionals and academics with a particular focus in water servicing for the agricultural, industrial and residential sectors in Abu Dhabi.
For over a year, EAD began working on a water budget plan that will actually decrease water consumption in the emirate, despite expecting substantial increase in demand due to the growth population and economy. At 600 litres per person per day, UAE remains the world's highest water consumer. Daily there are over two trillion litres of water extracted from underground, used mostly for agriculture and forestry irrigation.
Without enough rainfall to replenish the natural ground water reserves, the underground sources are drying up fast, and the more ground water is pumped out, the poorer its quality becomes.
According to water studies for the emirate, only three per cent of the ground water is still of good quality, the rest being brackish.
EAD against desalination plants
Desalination would be the easy way out, but EAD is against more desalination plants as they are heavy consumers of energy and increase the already very high salinity levels in the Arabian Sea, which destroy corals and marine life.
According to EAD representatives, the way forward is better management of water usage, zero waste, new technologies for irrigation and agriculture that minimise water consumption and making use of recycled water. By 2018, EAD expects to recycle all of Abu Dhabi emirate's treated wastewater, mostly for agriculture and forestry, thus reducing the need for desalination and ground water.
For a water budget - which would reduce water consumption by 30 per cent by 2030 - to work, efficient water management technologies are vital.
"The UAE government declared 2015 as the Year of Innovation, calling for collective action to cultivate innovation as a cornerstone of the country's long-term economic strength," pointed out Al Mazrouei.
"To contribute to this effort, EAD has been leading efforts to identify the most promising water technologies with the globally renowned Water Technology Approval Group forum."
The five technologies the EAD presented included the CMS5000 Monitoring System by Inficon from Germany, the Buried diffuser by Chahtech from Tunisia, Adsorption Desalination by MEDAD from Singapore, the Waterboxx by Groasis from the USA and thin-film distillation by Aquaback from the USA.
EAD spokespersons told Khaleej Times that none of these technologies are compulsory for its partners and stakeholders, nor are they the only ones that would fit Abu Dhabi's water management needs.

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