While there is much talk about the availability of power and water in the region, the ability to cope with the wastewater is often overlooked. Energy Management Systems managing director Khaled Bushnaq outlines the problems that Dubai's sewerage system is facing and how this can be tackled.
Dubai's explosive population growth over the last decade, combined with an increasing number of tourists and heightened commercial and industrial activities in the city, has placed an unprecedented strain on the Emirate's electricity and water-generating facilities. This has resulted in power outages and water shortages.
Presently the region generates one of the world's highest demands for power generation and clean water. Recent newspaper reports have stated that, with the exception of the United States of America and Canada, the UAE consumes more water per capita than any other country.
Within the UAE, 1% of the population consumes 32% of the available water, and interestingly, the majority of this 1% is made up of the region’s labour camps and commercial establishments. With less than 1% of the world’s renewable fresh water available within the region, Governments across the Middle East have invested an estimated US $10 billion (AED37 billion) into ongoing and planned projects aimed at improving fresh water access, including emphasising the development of private sector initiatives.
Dubai Municipality has released standards for water consumption in new buildings. All construction companies and consultancies involved in the design and installation of such services are required to familiarise themselves with these standards.
Energy Management Services (EMS) in association with Dubai Municipality has recently launched the Sewage Reduction Programme. This is aimed at reducing water usage to minimise the burden on the Emirate’s sewerage network. Over 400,000m3 of wastewater passes through Dubai’s sewerage system daily, placing a strain on the Emirates 1,200km sewerage pipeline network. The recent rains and subsequent flooded streets highlighted the need for Dubai’s sewerage system to handle large amounts of wastewater.
The programme involves the installation of specially designed equipment into new and established locations that will guarantee a reduction in water usage. As an incentive for people to adopt the scheme, EMS will be involved in preparing and installing the equipment.
The products include water flow-reducing devices that are installed in taps, toilet tanks and showers. These devices will reduce the volume of the flow by at least 30% and have proven effective in labour camps, commercial establishments, government establishments, schools, mosques and shopping malls. In accordance with Dubai Municipality standards, the devices will reduce the flow of water to under 6 litres per minute per tap.
In addition to economic benefits, there are considerable environmental benefits that can be achieved by implementing the Sewage Reduction Programme. EMS vigorously promotes the ‘green’ building focus, referring to the construction of environmentally-friendly building alternatives. A consideration of such ‘green’ options leads to a reduction in overall energy and water consumption, yields operational savings for the lifetime of the building and reduces the strain on the local infrastructure. Green buildings may also be easier to finance because they are designed to be integrated into the environment and will potentially increase the building’s profitability.
During the past twelve months, we have made a concerted effort to encourage regional developers to adopt these building strategies. This is based on the premise that sustained energy management solutions are part of the controllable budgetary expenditure for every organisation, especially when energy saving solutions are proven to have saved millions of Dirhams in energy costs.
By doing so, developers will not only construct sustainable communities with environmental quality, but additionally support the conservation of energy and water resources. Sustainable development methods, including the Sewage Reduction Programme, can be incorporated into buildings at any stage, including those undergoing renovation and maintenance.
The Sewage Reduction Programme is the latest project in the EMS portfolio focussing on energy efficiency and cleaner alternatives. During the last year, solutions provided by the firm saved clients, including the Burj Dubai development, over $32.5 million in energy consumption costs. On average, projects applying energy saving technologies achieve 20-40% reduction in electrical bills, a payback period of less than two years and return on investment from 70-150%.
The Sewage Reduction Programme is an inaugural step in increasing both governmental and public awareness of water and energy efficiency to widen the adoption of conservation practices. It is imperative that developers begin to realise that the adoption of such systems into building requirements and specifications for commercial complexes and residential buildings has a profound impact on both the economical and environmental concerns of the development.