Mohammed Rasooldeen, Arab News
Wednesday 16 February 2005
Last Update 16 February 2005 12:00 am
RIYADH, 16 February 2005 — The Ministry of Water and Electricity yesterday signed an SR62 million contract with a private sector company for the maintenance of concrete structures of the desalination plants in Jubail.
Speaking after signing the agreement with Al-Mabani Company, Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah Al-Hussayen said: “The contract is valid for 20 months and the contracting company will provide maintenance services for all the concrete structures of the desalination plants.”
He said his ministry had allocated SR1.5 billion for the maintenance and renovation of desalination plants in the country.
“The proposed projects are expected to produce two million cubic meters of water which is 65 percent of the present output. They will be started under existing desalination schemes such as Shuaiba, Al-Shuqaiq, Raas Al Zour and Jubail.”
The minister said his ministry, in cooperation with the Saline Water Conversion Corp. (SWCC), will spend another SR17 million on various desalination projects during the next four years.
“The desalinated water is meant only for consumers and not for agricultural purposes,” Al-Hussayen stressed. The ministry supplies more than 60 percent of the requirement of the various municipalities in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia is now the world’s largest producer of desalinated water with desalination meeting 70 percent of the country’s present drinking water requirement. It supplies major urban and industrial centers through a network of water pipes which run for more than 2,000 km.
According to predictions from the Central Department of Statistics, the Kingdom’s total population will exceed 29 million by 2010 and rise to 36.4 million 10 years later. Taking a baseline consumption of 300 liters per person per day, the resulting demand for water will increase to over 3,000 million cubic meters per year by 2010.
In Najran, the minister said, plans are under way to supply water from the Empty Quarter since there are limited water resources in several areas of the south.
“Bids will be called for this project very soon and the work is expected to begin shortly, just as soon as the formalities are completed,” he added.
Commenting on the rational use of water, Al-Hussayen recalled that his ministry distributed one million tool kits for conservation of water in houses in its first phase last year; more than 80 percent of the recipients successfully installed the free kits which brought down the consumption of water by 30 percent.
During the second phase, he said, the ministry intends distributing another one million tool kits to be fixed in government buildings, schools and mosques.
“Water is the Kingdom’s most valuable resource, and its management and protection is of paramount importance,” Al-Hussayen said, lamenting the fact that one million cubic meters of water is wasted in the Kingdom each year. Leakage in sewage and pipelines will be reduced by five percent during the next four years. The ministry has allocated SR300 million to detect and repair the leakage of water.
Saudi Arabia will need a capital investment averaging nearly $2 billion per year for the next 20 years to meet projected water demand. The Kingdom has established 30 desalination plants on the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coasts at a total cost of SR54 billion. Over the next five years, Saudi Arabia will require 4,500 km of new pipeline for freshwater transport and over 22,000 km for wastewater disposal pipes.