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21 April 2024

Mideast faces fresh water crisis

By Staff Writer

The Middle East will see a 50 per cent decline in renewable water supplies because of the region’s rapid population growth, a report revealed today.


According to the Meed Power and Water Special Report, the per capita availability of renewable water – which is sourced naturally, rather than from desalination plants – will drop from the current 1,100 cubic metres a year (cm/y) to 550cm/y by 2050.


Traditionally, the response has been to spend large sums on increasing water and wastewater capacity. But as resources become scarce, this approach is becoming unsustainable, the report says.


“The practice of heavily subsidising water is costing Middle East governments dearly, both in terms of revenues and efficiency. Governments in the region, advised by water industry experts, are realising that a fresh approach is required, one based on managing the region’s scarce water resources, rather than just reacting to uncontrollable consumer demand,” says Edmund O’Sullivan, Chairman of MEED Events.


Last month, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) began addressing this concern by introducing sliding electricity and water tariffs based on consumption levels. This is the first time Dubai has increased tariffs since 1998.


“Tariff increases are bound to be met with resistance, so a gradual approach may be the best way forward. Although the change will not apply to UAE nationals, the biggest consumers of water, it is a step in the right direction. Managing existing water assets better could go some way to reducing the need for new capacity,” O’Sullivan said.


The Meed report also mentioned that the UAE has implemented the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) directive based on the United States’ Green Building Council’s standards. This means that all buildings in the country will be constructed to international conservation standards. Taps will be fitted with flow restrictors and toilets will use the more efficient dual-flush technology.


Regional industry leaders and government decision-makers are expected to meet on Monday and Tuesday in Abu Dhabi to provide critical analysis of supply and demand and projected investment levels in the power and desalination sector.