IDA Congress highlights water-scarcity concerns

Urgent need for more clean water

Water is an increasingly scarce commodity in the Gulf
Water is an increasingly scarce commodity in the Gulf

 Future projections indicate that demand for water in the UAE will rise from five billion cubic metres to seven billion cubic metres in 2020, raising concerns about water scarcity in the region.

Already there are more than 30 desalination plants with a total capacity of 1.3 billion cubic metres a year, supplying 98% of the household and industrial water demand.

“Despite the advances in water desalination, the industry still faces technical, economic and environmental challenges, especially from the effects of rising temperatures. In order to mitigate climate change, the UAE has adopted the option of using nuclear and renewable energy in desalination processes,” said UAE Minister of Environment and Water Dr Rashid Ahmad bin Fahad.

“Despite the advances that have been achieved in water desalination internationally and regionally, the world water situation is worsening due to the inadequate availability of clean water, population increases, wastage and bad practices in water usage.

“All these factors which are relevant at international, regional and local levels, paint a frightening scenario of people competing for insufficient sources of water with all the attendant ramifications of that struggle. It has become incumbent upon us all to take a serious stand and to keep doing all we can.

“Governments, private organisations and individuals alike must conserve water irrespective of its source, including desalinated water, through encouraging research and scientific experimentation to develop new designs for desalination plants that are cost-effective, technologically-advanced and environment-friendly, so we can achieve desalination for a better world,” said UAE Minister of Energy Mohammed Bin Dha’en Al Hameli.

The Ministers made their remarks at the official opening of the International Desalination Association (IDA) World Congress 2009 at Madinat Jumeirah. The opening saw Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum presenting the IDA World Water Masters Award to Dr Farouk Al Baz, Research Professor and Director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, for his extensive research and significant work in groundwater storage and recovery.

The opening ceremony also saw the launch of the Excellence Centre for Integrated Water Management, a world-class initiative to undertake applied research in Water Cycles, sustainable solutions for the ecosystem and the proper use of water resources.

Salma Hareb, CEO of Economic Zones World, said: “In collaboration with our partners, this world class R&D centre is dedicated to water issues. Its objectives include research in qualitative and quantitative water management, adequacy of water for human use, and planning for water sustainability.

Highlighting the significance of hosting this world congress in Dubai, she said: “The IDA World Congress will provide a new thrust to the research and development efforts in the region to achieve long-tern sustainability in water desalination, supply and management.

“TechnoPark, and Economic Zones World as its parent organisation, see the hosting of the Congress for the first time here as an expression of our deep rooted commitment to this region’s development. We are proud to be supporting this event, which addresses one of the most critical problems the region faces.”

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