The UAE pumped nearly 1.7 billion cubic metres (bcm) of desalinated water in 2011 to become the second largest desalination producer in the world after Saudi Arabia, a local official was reported on Monday as saying.
The level produced last year was the highest to be pumped by the UAE as more sea desalination plants have been set up and existing units have been expanded to face a steady growth in domestic demand, said Mohammed Abdul Hamid Dawood, an adviser at the Abu Dhabi Environment Authority.
“The UAE is the world’s second largest producer of desalinated water after Saudi Arabia, which pumps nearly 2.02 bcm per year,” he told the semi official daily Alittihad, adding that the UAE’s output last year was nearly triple the level in 2000.
But Dawood warned that a water gap in the Gulf countries could sharply widen in 2030 in the absence of major desalination projects to meet a rapid increase in consumption because of a steady growth in the region’s population and economic expansion.
His figures showed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which groups the UAE with five other Gulf hydrocarbon producers, suffered from a water supply gap of around 15 bcm in 2008 and the deficit could soar to nearly 35 bcm in 2030.
He said production of one bcm of desalinated water in the UAE, the second largest Arab economy, costs around Dhseven, adding that the household and industrial sector consumes nearly 1.4 bmc a year, accounting for around 90 per cent of the total domestic water demand.
Dawood noted that water consumption in the UAE and other regional countries is among the highest in the world because of the hot weather, a rapid rise in the population, waste habits and other factors.
He said demand in the UAE averages as high as 360 litres a day per individual and that Abu Dhabi has the highest consumption rate, standing at more than 550 litres per individual compared with 200 litres in Sharjah.