UAE State of the Water Report Mohamed M. Al Mulla, PhD Director of Water Resources Department 2nd Arab Water Forum Cairo, 20-23 November 2011
ContentIntroduction - Geography - Governance - Climate - Environment - AgricultureCurrent Water Resources Situation in UAE - Water Resources - Hydrological cycle - Water Scarcity - Water Demand - Water Supply - Ground Water - Surface Water - Water Harvesting - Groundwater Recharge By Dams - Desalinated water - Treated Wastewater
ContentWater Resources Management in UAE - Access to drinking water and sanitation - Future Water Demand - climate Change Impact on Water Resources - Water Resources Information System - Water Security and Management - Water Demand Management - Water Conservation StrategySummary
GeographyUnited Arab Emirates (UAE) is located in Southwest Asiatowards the south-eastern area of the Arabian Peninsula,the UAE is a federation of seven Emirates – Abu Dhabi,Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimahand Fujairah - that span approximately 83,600 squarekilometers. The UAE’s coastlines form the south and south-eastern shores of the Arabian Gulf and part of the westernshores of the Gulf of Oman.The UAE’s population increased by about 75% between1995 and 2005, the year when the last census wasconducted. the population is increased to 5.06 million bythe end of 2009. The overwhelming majority of populationgrowth is associated with non-nationals coming to thecountry on temporary work assignments.In 2007, the UAE’s GDP reached nearly 730 billion dirhams (about US$ 200 billion), up from almost 242billion dirhams in 2000 and 157 billion dirhams in 1995. The national economy is well diversified and hasexperienced robust growth in recent years, with GDP growing at an average real annual rate of 11.2% forthe past several years.
GovernanceThe UAE’s government is a constitutionally-based federal system. The political system comprisesseveral intricately connected governing bodies that include the Supreme Council, the Council ofMinisters, the Federal National Council and the Federal Judiciary.The relationship between the federal and emirate governments is established in the Constitution,which allows for a degree of flexibility in the distribution of authority. Each of the seven emirates hasits own local government. Over the past several years, major steps have been taken, both at afederal and at a local level, to reform the structure of government to enhance responsiveness to thecitizenship and emerging challenges of sustainable development.An important recent development was the development of a national Government Strategy whichlaunched in 2007 aiming to establish foundations for a new era of public administration.Implementation of the strategy has continued to make progress resulting in the enhancement ofcollaboration between the federal and emirate-level authorities. The national policy agenda hasbeen followed by several local initiatives such as Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 a major developmentinitiative of Abu Dhabi that will guide planning decisions for the next quarter of a century.
ClimateUAE has an arid to hyber-arid climate with high temperatures and infrequent irregular low rainfall. Mean max. temp. reaches > 40 °C in summer High relative humidity (reaches > 97%) Average daily evaporation 8.2 mm Average daily sunshine 9.8 hours Average annual mean rainfall is around 120 mm
EnvironmentUAE recognized the importance of conserving environmental resources as an important foundationto its developmental policies for present and future generations. The UAE is endowed with a varietyof important terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems.In addition to national legislation that targets environmental issues, the UAE is a party to severalregional and international conventions and protocols, with the ratification of the Kyoto Protocoltaking place in 2005.Other resent notable developments include the following: Tighter controls over the countrys quarrying industry: new regulations introduced by the Ministry of Environment and Water cover air quality guidelines, noise, health and safety practices and the impact on the environment of areas adjacent to quarry sites and their associated rock crushers; More protected areas: for example, areas of the Hajar Mountains are being prepared for designation as protected areas, the mountains are home to much of the UAEs endangered wildlife and provide key habitats.
AgricultureUAE has been able to develop athriving agricultural industry despiteits highly arid condition.Modern irrigation techniques andwater from groundwater aquiferswastewater treatment plants andfrom desalination plants have madeit possible for large areas to becultivated.There are currently more than100,000 hectares of cultivated land,producing a range of cropsincluding vegetables fruit andfodder.
Water Resources in UAE Water Resources Conventional Non – Conventional Surface runoff Desalinated Water Falajes & Springs Groundwater Treated wastewater
Water ScarcityThe UAE total renewable freshwater resources is estimated to be less than 150 MCM / Year
Water DemandThe UAE total water demand in 2009 was estimated to be 4.5 BCM 2000 1789 1754 1800 1687 1600 1600 MCM مليون متر مكعب 1400 Demend األستخدام 1200 Groundwater مياه جوفية 1000 Desalination مياه محاله Treated wastewater مياه صرف صحى معالجة 800 600 456 456 478 400 287 131 102 200 60 87 67 0 Forestry الغابات Amenity التخضير والحدائق Domestic البلدى Agriculture الزراعى Sector القطاع
Water SupplyIn 2009 water was supplied from three main sources: 9%1. Groundwater supplies about 51%, mostly for irrigation uses, but some limited quantities are used for potable uses2. Desalinated water supplies about 40%, mainly for 51% potable water uses 40%3. Treated wastewater supplies about 9%, and mainly used for irrigating amenity areas and industrial uses Groundwater Desalination T. wastewater
GroundwaterGroundwater is UAE’s main natural water resource. The use of it is primarily for agriculture andforestry. The total volume of groundwater is large (640 BCM) but only 3% of the groundwateravailable, about 20 BCM is fresh.
GroundwaterTraditionally, groundwater was the main source of water for all uses in UAE. Due to the rapidexpansion mainly in the agricultural area several environmental problems have occurred : Over-abstraction of groundwater for agricultural caused a sharp drop in water levels in the fresh groundwater region. Salt-Water Intrusion from the sea in coastal regions, lateral movement of saline water from a nearby sabkha- dominated areas, or upwelling of saline water from lower stratigraphic units into shallow fresh water aquifers Water Quality Problems such as the rising of nitrate concentrations in some areas due to the over-use of fertilizer and over-irrigation
Surface WaterThe main renewable fresh water resource in the UAE is Wadi runoff which is determined by rainfallcharacteristics and the natural terrain. There are 60 surface water catchments defined in the UAE.The potential average annual surface water flow can range between 23 MCM to 138 MCM per year.
Water HarvestingTo manage the Wadi flows and flash floods, a series of multi-purpose dams were constructed fromthe early 1980s. The majority of the dams and barriers is located in the northern mountainous partof the country where significant flash floods occur. Benefits include increasing groundwaterrecharge; protecting people , farms and urban lands from flood damages; storing water to meetlocal agricultural water demand; conserving downstream areas from erosion; reducing water lossesto the ocean; and limiting seawater intrusion in coastal areas.
Groundwater Recharge By Dams117 recharge dams constructed across main Wadies, with total storage capacity of 120 MCM.The total harvested water behind the dams from 2001 until March 2010 is estimated at 130 MCM.The recharge efficiency is estimated between 47% to 22% for some dams.MCM 130 MCM Total Harvested Water
Desalinated waterAt present, desalinated water is the primary sourcefor potable water use in the UAE. Water desalinationin the country was initiated in 1973, in Abu Dhabi atan annual production rate of 7 MCM. Desalinationcapacity has increased since 2000 in a response toincreasing water demand from economicdevelopment and population growth. The nationaldesalination capacity is about 1,700 MCM per year.Both seawater and inland water desalination arepractised. Desalination plants fall into two maincategories: those that are constructed to utilize heat Distribution of UAEs desalination capacity among the Emiratesfrom thermal power generation known as thermal co-generation plants (Multi-Stage Flash MSF andMultiple Effect Distillation MED); and independentReverse Osmosis (RO) plants that use electricalpower to force salty water through membranes thatstrip salts from the water. Presently, thermal plants inoperation and under planning account for 81% ofdesalination capacity and RO accounts for 19% inUAE.
Treated WastewaterTreated wastewater is a valuable resource to address water scarcity. Thus, treated wastewaterhas an important role to play in water resources management in the UAE. Treated wastewater isa significant and growing resource in the UAE. To date it has been used primarily for greening ofurban areas. The total amount of treated wastewater produced was 560 MCM in 2009. Wastewater Treatment Systems in Abu DhabiMost of the UAE WWTPs are activated sludgeplants with tertiary treatment that consists of sandfiltration and chlorination. The followingconventional treatment methods are used in thetreatment plants: Activated sludge using surface aerators or fine bubble diffusers. Aerated lagoons. Sequential batch reactors. Trickling filters. Aerated submerged media. Package plants (based on activated sludge). UASB (up flow anaerobic sludge blanket) UAE Water Conservation Strategy 2010 , MOEW technology.
Future Water DemandAssuming current demand patterns and rates continue, the UAE’s total annual water demand isexpected to double by 2030 from 4.4 BCM in 2008.The sector of predicted greatest increase is in urban demand such (household, industrial,commercial, institutions and public facilities resulting from population and industrial/commercialgrowth. Conversely, water demand for agricultural and forestry is expected to decrease relative tocurrent values as a result of depleting groundwater resources, unless Treated wastewater ordesalinated water resources are used as substitutes. UAE Water Conservation Strategy, 2010 , MOEW
Climate Change Impact on Water- Under a changing climate, the vulnerability of waterresources in the UAE will likely worsen. Given climateprojections suggesting the future possibility of lowerrainfall levels, surface runoff could decrease , furtherreducing both surface and groundwater availability.- UAE has undertaken regional climatic modelinganalysis, as well as vulnerability and adaptation study forwater resources. A key finding of the water resourcevulnerability study is that the combination of futurepopulation growth, irrigation requirements, and economicactivity and business-as-usual water resourcemanagement will lead to future water demand far inexcess of current supplies.- The essential recommendation was to develop astrategy to reduce per capita water consumption by about50% from current levels, with resulting level of per capitawater consumption maintained through the year 2050.
Water Security and Management Water resources are the most critical natural resource for the UAE and a focus of policy scrutiny. Issued by the 31st GCC Summit which wound up in UAE (7/12/2010), the Abu Dhabi Water Declaration stressed the importance of linking between the guarantee of water security and diversification of energy and food security sources as vital prerequisite and key strategic priority for the future of the GCC states. Sustainable and integrated development and management of water resources requires water policy reforms with emphasis on supply and demand management measures and improvement of the legal and institutional provisions. UAE has developed a number of initiatives to enhance its water security level include the following: - A National Water Conservation Strategy has been lunched in 2010 focusing on water demand management measures in all water consumption sectors. - To increase the strategic water reserve an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project is established. The aim of the project is to develop sufficient capacity of domestic water supply to serve Abu Dhabi city and the surrounding area for up to 90 days at a daily rate of up to 40MIGD. The water would be reserved for use in case of emergency. - Investments on new water projects including desalination, wastewater and dams construction projects. UAEs investments on water projects have increased by 20 per cent from US$11.62 billion in 2007 to US$14bn in 2008.
Water Resources Information System The system has been developed using HydroGeoanalyst & Manager software. Database Structure allows :– importing/exporting/storing all water resources related data (geology, geomorphology, Topography & DEM, Climate, soil types, Hydrogeology, groundwater salinity, water table levels, land use, economical activities, desalination plants, and TSW) into/from/in the central database– The database has more advanced tools, like complex querying, borehole log plotting, 3D interpolation and visualization, and time series charting, reporting and different types of visualization.– GIS capability and spatial analysis– Linked to Water Budget Model
Water Demand ManagementThe UAE Water Conservation Strategy is a majorachievement in the realization of the Government’s vision tosecure sustainable water resource development for futuregenerations. The implementation of the strategy will besustained through close coordination between all water sectorrelated partners.The strategy aimed to achieve the following objectives:1. Provide an updated and integrated assessment of UAE’s water resources and their use;2. Provide an understanding of what governs water demand, allocation and use;3. Identify options to improve the efficiency of water use, reduce costs and improve the environment;4. Make recommendations to strengthen Federal policy, laws and capacity to comprehensively oversee sound water resources management and use; and5. Enhance water security and protect surface and groundwater resources, marine, and the environment.
Water Conservation StrategyThe Strategy provides a framework to sustainably manage the UAE’s water resources over theperiod to 2021. In order to implement the Strategy, the following eight initiatives should beimplemented:1 : Develop legislation, standards and Federal mechanisms for integrated water resources management2 : Better manage natural water resources and enhance strategic reserve3 : Develop national agricultural policy aimed at water conservation and increasing value to the economy4 : Manage efficiently desalinated water from a comprehensive and national perspective5 : Rationalize water consumption to be within the global daily per capita water consumption rate6 : Review and develop water pricing and subsidy policies7 : Better manage effluent and reclaimed water8 : Capacity building and strengthening of local expertise on the concepts of integrated water resources management
Summary- The UAE has an arid to hyber-arid climate- In 2009 , UAE total water demand was estimated to be 4.5 BCM . Water supplied by groundwater (51%) , desalination (40%) and treated wastewater (9%)- UAE total annual water demand is expected to double by 2030- Water resources are the most critical natural resource for the UAE- UAE Water Conservation Strategy is a major tool towards securing sustainable water resource development