The UAE is making significant progress since it embarking on a Water Security Strategy 2036 to reduce total demand for water resources by 21%, a senior official at the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy has revealed
The Water Security Strategy 2036 also entails an increase in the reuse of treated water to 95%, and also increasing national water storage capacity up to two days.
“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,” said Mohammed bin Jarsh Al Falasi, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE).
Al Falasi made the remarks while presenting Abu Dhabi’s strategies, policies and plans related to water security at the second annual Cairo Water Week held under the theme ‘Responding to Water Scarcity’ from October 20 to 24, 2019.
“We continue to capitalise on Reverse Osmosis (RO) as the preferred and most cost-effective technology for water desalination. Today, 120 MIGD of our total desalinated water is produced through RO while 840 MIGD is produced using traditional thermal desalination methods.”
Al Falasi noted that Abu Dhabi’s reliance on RO technology will increase when the mega water desalination project at Taweela Power and Water Complex is fully operational in 2022 as the new plant features a capacity of 200 MIGD.
He also highlighted the Liwa aquifer – the world’s largest reserve of 26 Mm3 of high-quality desalinated water, which Abu Dhabi completed in January 2018. This project is sufficient to store 5.6 billion gallons of water, or enough to provide 180 litres of drinking water to one million people for up to 90 days.
Another key highlight of the DoE Undersecretary’s presentation is the launch of Abu Dhabi Demand Side Management and Energy Consumption Rationalisation Strategy 2030. through 9 core programs, including District Cooling, Efficient Water Use and Water Reuse, the strategy aims to reduce water consumption by 32% and energy consumption by 22% by 2030 based on a 2013 baseline.
Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s largest desalinated water producers with nine desalination plants that have a total capacity of up to 960 million imperial gallons per day, transported though a 3,500 km network and distributed across a 13,000 km pipe network.
The highest demand for water is driven by agriculture and irrigation - which account for 70% of water consumption - in addition to the climate, government commitment to large green spaces, residential buildings, commercial and industrial uses.
“While our population grows and demand for water increases, our ground water supplies decrease. Currently, we have 200,000 wells producing 2 billion cubic meter of ground water per year, of which 87% is used for farms consumption,” said Al Falasi.
“Water intensity is high in Abu Dhabi due to the hot desert climate and limited rainfall. Our supply mix comprises 60% ground water, 30% desalinated water and 10% recycled water. However, with 79% of groundwater reserves being highly saline, we rely heavily on desalination to provide usable water.”
As part of the visit to Cairo, Al Falasi has met with H.E Dr Mohamed Abdel-Aty, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, to discuss opportunities to expand knowledge-sharing and cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Egypt. The meeting also comprised representatives from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Food Security Authority who are participating in Cairo Water Week.