Water in the U.A.E. is in very short supply and it is becoming a concern. The United Arab Emirates is one of the top 10 most water-scarce countries in the world, and its per capita consumption is the highest in the world. With 550 litres per person per day, a UAE resident consumes more than double the global national average of 250 litres per person per day. Due to increase in population growth, economic development and changes in lifestyle of the people over the last several decades, the demand on municipal water supply has increased significantly in the U.A.E.
Besides, water is used by many sectors such as industry, building construction, agriculture and domestic purposes. This is one of the biggest contributing factors that puts a strain on freshwater supply in the country. The problem of water scarcity is expected to increase in the next future, since the population of the region is bound to double by 2050.
In the United Arab Emirates, 51% of the water supply comes from groundwater, a resource that is expected to be exhausted in the coming decades. According to Prof, Waleed Zubari of ’Arabian Gulf University in Bahrain most of groundwater systems are not renewable.
The Minister for Energy has declared that United Arab Emirates water consumption is now a major concern for the country and he has planned water saving programs.
According to Minister H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, every member of society must take its part in reducing the amount of water it consumes.
The Emirates are among the 10 most arid states in the world and around 15% of the world’s desalinated water is consumed here.
Due to lack of existing freshwater sources in the UAE, limited annual rainfall, high water evaporation rate, the only source of potable water in the region is the desalinated sea water, whose cost is still very high.
Forecasts show that the demand for desalinated water is expected to double by 2030. Not only the potable water production creates the problem, but also the resulting wastewater generated by the users poses many sustainability challenges such as putting strain on treatment facilities, land and surface water contamination due to overflow of untreated water, disposal of treatment sludge and expensive to production method.
H.E. Al Mazrouei has said that the UAE houses alone consume 44% of the country’s water use and this is a high percentage that has to be reduced at least to 40%. Efforts are to be put in order to exploit every drop of water that falls in the country by recycling it. Use of rainwater should reach 95% by 2036.
Alternative solutions to reduce water consumption are under study. Water saving programs also include the installation of water consumption meters for citizens of the United Arab Emirates, which could reduce consumption by 20%. Similar procedures will be applied to schools, governmental buildings and hospitals.
The Ministry plan includes also the establishment of more water desalination plants in the Eastern coast.
Fewa is also testing a technology that uses algae to absorb salt from water, and if it proves effective the UAE will be the first country to use that technology.
“The solutions are few, unless we are able to reduce consumption, which is a huge concern for the ministry and authority”.