The UAE pumps nearly 14 per cent of the world's desalinated water as it is heavily reliant on the sea for its sweet water needs given its relatively poor ground water resources, Alkhaleej newspaper said on Tuesday.
Water desalination, which provides the bulk of drinking water needs in the Gulf, drained nearly Dh11.8 billion from the UAE's coffers in 2008, an average cost of around Dh7.16 per each produced cubic metre, the paper quoted Mariam Al Shannasi, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Environment and Water, as saying.
"Total consumption of sweet water from ground resources and desalination in the UAE was estimated at around 4.5 billion cubic metres in 2008," she said.
Her figures showed the UAE had around 70 water desalination stations at the end of 2008 and the bulk of production is in Abu Dhabi, accounting for 67 per cent. Output stood at 18 per cent in Dubai, 10 per cent in Sharjah and the rest is produced in the other emirates, according to Shannasi.
"We call on the public to rationalize water consumption to stop the drainage of ground resources and protect the environment...the Ministry is taking additional measures to achieve this goal, including banning the use of tractors and other traditional irrigation systems from next year," she said.
The UAE and other Gulf oil producers are among the highest water and electricity consumers in the world because of the hot weather, a steady expansion in the industrial sector and the heavy subsidies on such services.
Per capita water consumption in the region was estimated at more than 150 gallons a year in 2008.