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Water, water… not everywhere

Water, water… not everywhere

They say that one day we’ll be fighting wars over it; for now we just need to manage it better. Kipp takes a closer look at water preservation and management in the UAE.

October 18, 2010 1:21 by

The days when environmental activists could shock us with their doomsday predictions of the extinction of species, the depletion of resources, and apocalyptic ruination are long gone. Call it what you want – thick skin, immunity, ignorance, insensitivity – our inability to be fazed by the cries of Mother Earth is indeed unfortunate. But one environmental report did shock us out of protective stupor—a story in The National considered the very real threat a shortage of water poses to the UAE.

Now that we think about it, of course water supply should be a concern; the UAE is, after all, a desert. Somehow the real arid dryness of the desert we live in escapes us, especially as we shuttle between skyscrapers, shopping malls and supermarkets brimming with greens and fruits and air con.

Yet water supply is a very real issue in the Gulf.  Currently the UAE depends on desalination plants for 90 percent of its water supply. Ignoring the expensive costs incurred to manage the plants, not to mention the huge inefficiencies in terms of energy, such a high dependency of desalinated water poses a real risk in the event of contamination of the supply. For instance, in the event of an oil spill or a bacterial contamination, the water desalination process will be severely compromised and consequently so would the UAE’s entire water supply. Mohammad A. Dawoud, Manager, Water Resources Department at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) told Gulf News that in an emergency the Gulf has underground reservoirs that can only provide enough water for only 24 hours. Kipp is scared.

What is being done?

Officials in the capital are implementing a Dh.18.37 billion project to develop alternative accessible water storage method that can be availed of in times of emergency. Meeting at the ISMAR 7, the seventh International Symposium on Managed Aquifer Recharge (sounds fun), last week Abu Dhabi officials said the best option for reservation is the usage of aquifer recharge.

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