Non-renewable groundwater management in Saudi Arabia

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Presentation on groundwater management in Saudi Arabia by Dr. Ali Saad Al-Tokhais at the International Annual UN-Water Zaragoza Conference 2012/2013. Preparing for the 2013 International Year. Water Cooperation: Making it Happen! 8-10 January 2013.

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  • Presentation: Dr. Ali Al Tokhais - 4 – 5 September 2012
  • Overview of geology and aquifers. Simplified geological map of the Arabian Peninsula. Geological units: Arabian Shield (including Harrats) Arabian Platform Zagros fold belt Red Sea basin Ophiolites in Oman (Semail-ophioltes, oduction of ocean floor)
  • Arabian Shield. Comprises of igneous and metamorphic rocks of Precambrian age + volcanic rocks of Tertiary and younger age. Secondary aquifers. In general low yield. Exception alluvial wadi fillings.
  • Arabian Platform. The geology of the Arabian Platform is characterised by a thick pile of sedimentary formations that are lying on top of the basement rocks. Water-bearing sandstone and limestone layers (aquifers) alternate with low permeability shale layers Thick sedimentary sequence, ranging from Cambrian (540 Ma) to Recent. The sequence is resting on the flanks of the Arabian Shield. The Arabian Shield is a tectonically stable region. The base of the sequence is made of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The sedimentary succession consists of carbonates, sulphates, shales, marls and sandstones. The succession was deposited during several transgressive and regressive cycles. In the lower part clastic sediments (sandstones etc.) prevail. In the upper part limestones, dolomites and sulphates prevail.
  • Geological cross section through the Arabian Platform (Riyadh – Qatar). Notes: Tectonics (faults and horst structures) + oil traps + occurrence of oil and gas resources.
  • Rainfall distribution
  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia disposes of three major types of water resources. These are: non-renewable groundwater resources, renewable groundwater and surface water resources, and desalinated seawater. The availability of these resources varies throughout the country, and accordingly five different areas are distinguished. Red Sea Coast: The water resources of this area are made up by desalinated seawater and renewable water resources.
  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia disposes of three major types of water resources. These are: non-renewable groundwater resources, renewable groundwater and surface water resources, and desalinated seawater. The availability of these resources varies throughout the country, and accordingly five different areas are distinguished. Northern Arabian Shield: Renewable water resources are the only water resource in this area. However, the amount of renewable resources is low compared to the Southern Shield, because the rainfall is lower.
  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia disposes of three major types of water resources. These are: non-renewable groundwater resources, renewable groundwater and surface water resources, and desalinated seawater. The availability of these resources varies throughout the country, and accordingly five different areas are distinguished. Southern Arabian Shield: Significant amounts of rainfall (up to 500 mm/a) enable a water supply that is based solely on renewable water resources, if good water management is implemented. This is the only area in Saudi Arabia, where a sustainable use of the water resources is possible.
  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia disposes of three major types of water resources. These are: non-renewable groundwater resources, renewable groundwater and surface water resources, and desalinated seawater. The availability of these resources varies throughout the country, and accordingly five different areas are distinguished. Arabian Platform: In this area, only non-renewable groundwater resources exist. Some remote supply from desalinated seawater from the East Coast takes place.
  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia disposes of three major types of water resources. These are: non-renewable groundwater resources, renewable groundwater and surface water resources, and desalinated seawater. The availability of these resources varies throughout the country, and accordingly five different areas are distinguished. East Coast: Desalinated seawater and, to much lesser extent, non-renewable groundwater resources make up the water resources of this area.
  • Geological column with principal and secondary aquifers on the Arabian Platform The map shows the location of the groundwater study areas on the Arabian Platform. The borders of the areas in KSA are defined by the extent of the aquifers (outcrop + sub crop). Location of the study areas: Wajid – Saq - Khuff-Jilh-Minjur - Wasia-Biyadh-Aruma - Umm Er Radhuma. Aquifer studies carried out by GTZ & DCo and BRGM since 2003. Ongoing until 2013
  • Major aquifer types on the Arabian Platform Groundwater is found in underground reservoirs or aquifers. Definition of the term aquifer: an aquifer is a geologic unit that can store and transmit enough water to be a significant water resource. Aquifer types. Porous media aquifers + bedrock aquifer. Description of vessels where groundwater is stored. Aquifer properties. Storativity + hydraulic conductivity.
  • Main objectives of aquifer studies
  • Flow chart of aquifer studies. Exploring, mapping and assessing of groundwater resources.
  • Presentation of results
  • Groundwater budget components in arid areas: predevelopment state The predevelopment state is defined by a site which is in its natural condition prior to any major human activity. Prior to the introduction of motor pumps Population in 1932: 2.4 Mio. Kingdom was founded Population in 1950: 3.2 Mio Population in 2010: 27 Mio. Population in 2050: 45 Mio.
  • Groundwater budget components in arid areas: present state
  • Global water budget for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Consequences of overexploitation. Same problem in the USA: Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer. Fluviatile sediments of Miocene and Pliocene age.
  • Examples for long-term decline in groundwater levels for selected observation wells of the Umm Er Radhuma, Dammam, and Neogene aquifer in the region of Al Hassa due to non sustainable groundwater abstraction. In some areas groundwater levels are declining by meters per year. These are alarming rates. Spatial extent of the cones of depression in the Umm Er Radhuma, Dammam, and Neogene aquifer for 2004. Groundwater depletion in some high-abstraction areas attracts saline waters from nearby wadi beds or underlying aquifers, and seawater intrusion.
  • Examples for long-term decline in groundwater levels for selected observation wells of the Umm Er Radhuma, Dammam, and Neogene aquifer in the region of Al Hassa due to non sustainable groundwater abstraction. In some areas groundwater levels are declining by meters per year. These are alarming rates. Spatial extent of the cones of depression in the Umm Er Radhuma, Dammam, and Neogene aquifer for 2004. Groundwater depletion in some high-abstraction areas attracts saline waters from nearby wadi beds or underlying aquifers, and seawater intrusion.
  • Location of main consumers on the Arabian Platform. Conflict in supply. Competition between domestic, industrial, and agricultural users. The nearst is the cheapiest! Transmission costs are high. Consequence: conserve the groundwater for domestic (municipal) use next to urban centers.
  • Non-renewable groundwater management in Saudi Arabia

    1. Non-RenewableGroundwaterManagement inSaudi ArabiaDr. Ali Saad Al-Tokhais
    2. Water consumption for Saudi ArabiaSector 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010Domestic 1,748 1,848 1,977 2,006 2,123 2,283Industrial 654 668 683 698 714 753Agricultural 18,586 17,003 15,420 15,083 14,747 14,410Total 20,988 19,519 18,080 17,787 17,584 17,446Unit is MCM/year
    3. Background: How much groundwater is available? First assessment of water resources: •1963-1983: Exploration and identification of groundwater resources •1979: British Arabian Advisory Company (BAAC) •1980: Groundwater Development Consultants (GDC) •1983: German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) •1985: Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minièrs (BRGM) Groundwater reserve: Estimation of groundwater in storage is 428,400 MCM Groundwater abstraction: Total groundwater abstraction of 462,300 MCM (1975 – 2005) Results: 1.Drying up of natural springs 2.Declining groundwater levels of all aquifers 3.Deterioration of water quality What is next: The Ministry of Water & Electricity (MoWE) is working on the reassessment of the water resources since 2003
    4. Geology Arabian Peninsula Geological Map
    5. Geology Arabian Peninsula Arabian Shield Igneous & metamorphic rocks Volcanic rocks (Harrats)
    6. Geology Arabian Peninsula Arabian Platform Sedimentary succession
    7. Geology Arabian Peninsula
    8. Precipitation Arabian Peninsula Annual rainfall mm/a
    9. Major water provinces in Saudi Arabia Red Sea Coast The water resources of this area are made up by desalinated seawater, renewable water resources, and treated waste water
    10. Major water provinces in Saudi Arabia Northern Arabian Shield Desalinated seawater, renewable water resources, and treated waste water are the only water resource in this area. However, the amount of renewable resources is low compared to the Southern Shield, because the rainfall is lower.
    11. Major water provinces in Saudi Arabia Southern Arabian Shield Significant amounts of rainfall (up to 400 mm/a) enable a water supply that is based solely on renewable water resources. This is the only area in Saudi Arabia, where a sustainable use of the water is possible. Desalinated seawater and treated waste water are among the water resources
    12. Major water provinces in Saudi Arabia Arabian Platform In this area, only non- renewable ground-water resources exist. Some remote supply from desalinated seawater from the East Coast takes place.
    13. Major water provinces in Saudi Arabia East Coast Desalinated seawater and, to much lesser extent, non-renewable groundwater resources as well as treated waste water make up the water resources of this area.
    14. Extent of principal aquifers on the Arabian Platform Umm Er Radhuma & overlying aquifers Wasia-Biyadh-Aruma Khuff-Jilh-Minjur Wajid & Saq
    15. Major aquifer types on the Arabian Platform Bedrock aquifers Sandstone aquifers Karst aquifersFractures with permeable matrix Conduit system with a karstified rock matrixExamples: Examples:Wajid, Saq, Dhruma, Minjur, Wasia, Biyadh Aruma, Umm Er Radhuma, Dammam
    16. Objectives of reassessment of the water resources studies  Assessment of groundwater budget What are the in- and outflows to the aquifer system?  Assessment of groundwater resources How much groundwater is (still) available?  Managing of groundwater resources How can we make best use of the groundwater resource? Is sustainable non-renewable groundwater management possible in arid countries?
    17. Flow chart: aquifers studiesCollection andinterpretation of dataDevelopment of aquifermodelApplication of aquifermodel as amanagement tool
    18. Groundwater modelElevation model Geology 3D-geology Hydrogeological model Groundwater model
    19. Groundwater modelElevation model Geology 3D Stereoscopic visualization
    20. Groundwater budget: predevelopment state (before1965)Inflow: Outflow:• groundwater recharge • spring discharge• inflow through wadi channels • inland and coastal sabkhas • Arabian Gulf
    21. Groundwater budget: present stateInflow: Outflow:• groundwater recharge • agricultural water use• inflow through wadi channels • industrial water use • domestic water use
    22. Total water budget for Saudi Arabia
    23. Consequences of high groundwater abstractions1. Declining groundwater levels / large groundwater drawdown2. Increase in production costs due to high pumping lifts3. Destruction of the environment and increasing desertification zones4. Deterioration of groundwater quality / salt water intrusion5. Conflict between water users: • agriculture, industry, domestic water use • present generation / future generation6. Possible land subsidence
    24. Umm Er Radhuma aquifer: Al Hassa  Drying up of springs  Declining groundwater levels  Large scale groundwater drawdown  Deterioration of groundwater quality
    25. Drawdown in Saq and Wasia Biyadh aquifer Saq: Hail-Buraydah- Wasia-Biyadh: Tabuk region Al Kharj region
    26. Location of main consumers Conflict in supply between: - Urban centers - Agriculture
    27. Indicators for change in water strategy • 2003: Establishment of the Ministry of Water & Electricity (MoWE). Separation of the agricultural sector from the water sector. • 2003: Launch of reassessment of the water resources. Studies will be finished by 2014. • 2008: Establishment of National Water Company (NWC). • 2008: Phasing out wheat production until 2016 (Royal Decree 335). • 2010: Intensive development of groundwater resources for municipal water supply. • 2010: Preparation of comprehensive water law.
    28. Development of irrigated area 1985 - 2010
    29. Irrigation efficiency Crop consumptive use and groundwater abstraction in Saudi Arabia Irrigation efficiency must be increased. Comparing crop consumptive use to groundwater abstraction shows that irrigation efficiency is below 50%. Further efforts are required by the Ministry of Agriculture in order to increase irrigation efficiency to reach minimally 70%.
    30. Question and challenges Question: Should non-renewable groundwater be pumped for maximum benefit of the present generation without a concern about over drafting the aquifers? or Should the present groundwater withdrawal be limited to preserve the resource for the future generations? Challenges in managing non-renewable groundwater 1.Rapid aquifer depletion 2.Rapid increase in urban water demand 3.High agricultural water demand
    31. Solutions 1. Improve IWRM to achieve groundwater sustainability 2. Decrease non-renewable groundwater abstraction 3. Increase irrigation efficiency 4. Implementation of virtual water program for agricultural production 5. Make groundwater protection everybodys responsibility
    32. Thank you very muchfor your kindattention

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