Middle East governments are moving aggressively towards promoting water conservation/storage, wastewater recycle and reuse and desalination of sea water in order to meet the burgeoning water consumption needs of all sectors.
Population growth and deterioration of water quality has prompted GCC governments to embark on major spending to combat water scarcity and ensure sustainable resources for the future. According to a recent report by Ventures Middle East, GCC governments have earmarked over US$100 billion in their water sectors between 2011 and 2016 to improve desalination technologies involving solar energy, and maximise on waste water treatments and recycling. These spread across Qatar, UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia, emphasise the growing awareness of such initiatives in the region. A look at some of these upcoming developments in the region....
Qatar is likely to witness developments worth US $87 million in the water sector by 2022.The per capita water consumption in the country is currently the highest in the world, with the total consumption recorded at 216 cu m in 2012, according to Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa). To meet this demand several project are underway in the country. The government recently approved a project to set up a 36 million gallon per day water desalination plant at Ras Abu Fontas that is expected to be functional by the mid of 2015.
Addtionally, Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) awarded a contract to construct the Ras Abu Fontas A2 desalination plant to a consortium including Mitsubishi Corporation and Toyo-Thai Corporation The new plant will have a planned capacity of 163,659 cu m of desalinated water, which will be supplied to Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (KAHRAMAA) for 25 years. The project, to be built on turn-key basis, will then be operated and maintained by QEWC. Its completion has been scheduled for June 2015.
An allocation of US $960 milllion funds has also put Saudi Arabia on the forefront of GCC water project developers. The country is currently involved in design and implementation of water and sewage projects in the region at a total cost of US$80 million, with US$40 million assigned for the Dharma, Muzahmiyya and Quwiayyah provinces and US$40 million for a water transport project in Kharj province.
Saudi Arabia will also soon be home to the world's largest desalination plant. The plant will be built by Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) in Rabigh, northwest of Jeddah. The facility will have a daily output capacity of 600,000 cu m and it will be completed in 2018. The facility will supply water to northern areas of Jeddah, Makkah and Taif.
Spanish engineering group Acciona's water division, Acciona Agua, has been awarded a two-year US$18.6 million deal to operate and maintain a pair of wastewater treatment plants in Saudi Arabia's Makkah Province.
Xylem will expand its presence in the Middle East region with a new office in Saudi Arabia. The company will also be expanding its dewatering capabilities in the region.
Abu Dhabi's municipality has launched a new irrigation master plan to reduce the amount of fresh water used to irrigate plants and green areas as the city develops. The emirate will soon also introduce a plan for 'total reliance on treated waste water' for irrigating plants as opposed to using desalinated water or spring water that can be spared for drinking and other uses.
This masterplan, to be implemented over a period of 18 months, will focus on forecasting the municipality's future needs for irrigation for existing and planned parks across the city.
Abu Dhabi's executive council has approved the development of a water project in Al Ain. The network will save 8,900 sq m of ground and desalinated water daily boost reserves in those waters.
Abu Dhabi's neighbouring emirate Dubai is involved in the extension of a 450mm-diameter water transmission network by 416km. The US$45.5 mn project being developed by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) involves supply, implementation and extension to enhance the reliability of its water networks and increase its supply to fast-growing parts of the emirate.
The project will also include the laying of 450 mm-diameter water transmission pipes made of glass reinforced epoxy and is scheduled for completion within a 26-months.
Bauer has been awarded an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract by Hyundai Engineering Company to develop a sewage treatment plant that could reach a capacity of 300 cu/m per day. The wetland treatment plant has been developed and designed by Bauer's Wetland Competence Centre in Muscat. The 'green' plant would be located in Ghumda village in Musandam, close to the UAE-Oman border.
These efforts of the GCC Governments to conserve water in addition to their avid focus on desalination and waste water treatment, highlights the significance given by these economies to meet the demand for water. Faced with the inherent disadvantage of extreme scarcity of ground water, the GCC nations are doing everything within their power to conserve and improve the supply of water.