In 2017, the United Arab Emirates announced its Water Security Strategy 2036, to ensure sustainable access to water during both normal and emergency conditions in line with local regulations, standards of the World Health Organization, and the country’s vision to achieve prosperity and sustainability.
The objectives of the strategy are to reduce the total water demand by 21%, increase the water productivity index to USD 110 per cubic meter, reduce the water scarcity index by three degrees, increase the reuse of treated water to 95% and increase national water storage capacity up to two days.
According to Abu Dhabi’s Department of Energy (DoE), the country is making important progress to achieve the objective of reducing the water demand by 21%, reports Utilities Middle East. Mohammed bin Jarsh Al Falasi, Undersecretary of the DoE, said ‘In Abu Dhabi, we have set targets to minimise water losses to 10%, reduce indoor and outdoor water use intensity to 12%, and increase use of recycled water to 100% by 2030’.
Al Falasi presented his country’s water security policies at the 2nd Cairo Water Week, held from October 20 to 24. He stated his country is committed to Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology for water desalination because of its cost-effectiveness. Currently, the UAE produces 120 MIGD (some 550,000 m3/day) using RO, while 840 MIGD (3,820,000 m3/day) are produced using traditional thermal desalination. Moreover, as Al Falasi pointed out, Abu Dhabi will rely even more on RO once the Taweela IWP is operational in 2022. The Taweela project, expected to produce some 910,000 m3/day, will be the world’s largest sea water reverse osmosis desalination plant.
He also noted that Abu Dhabi completed in early 2018 the world’s largest desalinated water reserve in the Liwa aquifer, with 26 million m3, and announced the Abu Dhabi Demand Side Management and Energy Consumption Rationalisation Strategy 2030. The latter is intended to reduce water use by 32% and energy use by 22% by 2030, taking 2013 as the starting point.
In Abu Dhabi ─ as in most of the world ─ agriculture is the main water user, accounting for 70% of the consumption, and relying heavily on groundwater. In the Emirate’s desert climate, 60% of the water supply comes from groundwater, 30% from desalinated water, and 10% from reclaimed water; nevertheless, since 79% of the groundwater has a high salt concentration, desalination is also needed in that case.
During his visit to Cairo, Al Falasi and other senior officials from the Emirates also discussed cooperation opportunities between Abu Dhabi and Egypt with the Egyptian Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation.