Abu Dhabi: It’s a nation with arid land, however the UAE at the moment grows 20 per cent of its produce regionally. It additionally goals to develop into a food-secure nation however 2071, however a key side of assembly this aim will contain balancing the UAE’s water demand and provide.
In Abu Dhabi emirate, it will likely be essential to scale back the large strain on groundwater sources, which at the moment provide 91 per cent of the water wanted for agriculture and forestry on an annual foundation, mentioned Dr Mohamed Dawoud, water sources adviser on the surroundings sector regulator, the Atmosphere Company Abu Dhabi.
To that finish, two large pipelines, spanning a whole lot of kilometres, are being constructed for the time being, and are anticipated to develop into operational over the following few months. Between them, the pipelines will to switch almost 400,000 cubic metres of handled wastewater to 4,100 farms within the emirate.
“These pipelines will allow the usage of handled wastewater. At current, 45 per cent of the handled wastewater is discharged into the Arabian Gulf as a result of there may be nonetheless no infrastructure to switch this water from the place it’s handled to the place it may be used. [Once the wastewater is utilised], it’ll save about 12 to 13 per cent of the groundwater that’s at the moment used for irrigation,” Dr Dawoud mentioned.
One of many pipelines is situated alongside the Abu Dhabi-Dubai roads. The 70-kilometre construction will carry 140,000 cubic metres of water a day from the south of Musaffah to farms in Samih, Ajban and Shahama. One other longer pipeline will prolong from Al Wathba to Al Khazna in Al Ain, transferring 250,000 cubic metres of water for the irrigation of two,100 farms, small forests and landscapes. “Each pipelines will develop into operational by the tip of the 12 months,” Dr Dawoud defined.
Abu Dhabi emirate at the moment makes use of a mixture of water sources to satisfy its wants, together with groundwater, recycled water and desalinated water. Regardless of this, the pressures on groundwater — which isn’t even potable or appropriate for home use — stay immense. “Groundwater is taken into account a non-renewable useful resource in Abu Dhabi, and its pure recharge price is extraordinarily restricted. Actually, the useful resource solely happens within the Hajar Mountains space,” mentioned Dr Sheikha Al Dhaheri, EAD secretary normal.
The EAD estimates that price of groundwater extraction is eighteen to twenty instances the pure price of recharge. Following extraction, this water is used for irrigation on farms, landscaping throughout each roads and nationwide parks, and forestry. “Among the many most important threats are extreme use of groundwater for agricultural functions, inadequate consciousness of customers, and the restricted pure recharge of groundwater. The issue is aggravated by the rise in pumping because of the enlargement of the agricultural sector and the necessity for water, which at the moment reaches 2,100 million cubic meters yearly,” Dr Al Dhaheri mentioned.
Declining high quality
In response to the consultants, underground aquifers are recharged within the emirate at a price of 90 million to 140 million cubic metres a 12 months. On the identical time, the extraction price is greater than 2 billion cubic metres.
Finally, if extreme groundwater extraction continues, ranges will proceed to fall, and the standard of the accessible water will deteriorate. Already, 79 per cent of the reserves have develop into extremely saline, whereas 18 per cent are brackish. “Solely three per cent will be thought-about to be recent groundwater for the time being,” Dr Al Dhaheri mentioned.
“Groundwater can by no means be a sustainable various in Abu Dhabi. However we will attempt to cut back the strain on these sources, and the usage of handled wastewater on farms is considered one of these efforts,” Dr Dawoud added.
The EAD has additionally already tagged 54,000 operational wells throughout all the emirate’s 25,000 farms. These at the moment are monitored for water high quality, salinity and extraction price, and assist the EAD decide how a lot groundwater is used.
One other challenge is at the moment learning the potential of irrigation with desalinated water on 19,000 farms. “Solely about 20 per cent of the water used for irrigation is desalinated water at current, and this may be expanded additional if required. However we have to decide how possible that is,” Dr Dawoud mentioned.
When requested to match between the 2, the EAD adviser mentioned handled wastewater is a greater choice for irrigation than desalinated water.
“Handled wastewater contains vitamins which enhance soil high quality and fertility due to the presence of natural matter. Nonetheless, this can’t be expanded additional, so we have to discover different sources too,” Dr Dawoud mentioned.
Whereas these tasks have a look at increasing water provide, the EAD additionally works to restrict extreme demand.
For example, there are restrictions on groundwater extraction in some areas.
“Wells in these depleted areas can’t be drained, neither can there be a rise in agricultural funding in these areas. These depleted areas are in Al Ain, with 70 per cent of Al Ain metropolis falling within the depleted areas,” mentioned Saleh.
Al Ain has extra depleted areas as a result of this inexperienced jap area in Abu Dhabi has almost 50 per cent of all of the farms within the emirate — a complete of 12,000 farms, whereas the remaining 13,000 are unfold throughout the capital metropolis’s suburbs and Al Dhafra.
Specialists are additionally learning the emirate’s aquifers, that are layers of water-bearing rock underneath the bottom.
“All wells in Abu Dhabi at current faucet the shallow aquifer system, which is situated at depths between 100 to 600 metres. However we do have a deep aquifer system at depths of 700 to 1,000 metres, and 5 deep wells shall be dug to discover this aquifer system by way of high quality and amount,” Dr Dawoud mentioned.
What farm homeowners can do
Amid all these efforts, farm homeowners even have a significant function to play in water conservation. Dr Dawoud mentioned lots of them have overcome their preliminary reluctance concerning the usage of handled wastewater for irrigation. “Farm homeowners should preserve groundwater use, and assist in the usage of various water sources on farms,” he mentioned.
The EAD adviser additionally offered just a few suggestions for farm homeowners, who want to preserve the emirate’s water sources:
— Go for hydroponics and the newest applied sciences that minimise water use.
— Set up water metres to trace groundwater use. The set up of those units is free for the primary time.
— Use soil modification applied sciences to make soil much less sandy and unfastened. Free soil means water wastage throughout irrigation.
— Select soil-less farming strategies at any time when doable.
— Often examine wells and pipelines to detect and stop water leaks.
— Water crops at night time, particularly in summer season, to be able to minimise evaporation.
3,454 million cubic metres of water consumed in Abu Dhabi yearly
2,428 million cubic metres of water wanted for agriculture yearly
562 million cubic metres of water used for home functions yearly.
Abu Dhabi’s aquifer programs:
100m-600m depth: shallow aquifer system, which is tapped for all of the 54,000 farm-based wells within the emirate
700m-1,000m depth: deep aquifer system, which is at the moment unexplored