Water crisis looming

Water crisis looming
Updated 09 September 2014

Water crisis looming

Water crisis looming

The Kingdom will face a severe water shortage in the future because of poor rainfall in recent years and high consumption rates, according to local experts.
Abdulaziz Al-Turbaq, a researcher and expert in water science, said Saudi Arabia consists largely of desert areas with no rivers or huge natural water resources except underground water that is a nonrenewable source.
“It is necessary to find an urgent solution to the looming water crisis by developing strategic plans for rational use of water over the long term and providing large quantities of clean water at a low cost,” said Al-Turbaq.
“Unfortunately, water was wasted and aquifers were depleted in huge quantities over the past four decades, which has placed some areas in a critical condition. Water desalination projects initiated in the Kingdom four decades ago to provide drinking water is a fundamental solution, but is very expensive and will provide insufficient amount of water in light of the steady increase in the population. Also, standards of living have improved to such an extent that consumption rates per individual are increasing dramatically. In some areas in the Kingdom, individuals consume 500 liters a day.”
Al-Turbaq said that the agricultural sector consumes excessive amounts of water to produce low-value crops such as feed, grain and dates. He said that these products use 80 to 85 percent of the water in the agricultural sector and are not economically viable.
Omar Al-Ayoubi, a specialist in water research, said that industrialization, particularly in manufacturing, had taken place without considering threats to the environment and water security. Many of these heavy industries require huge amounts of water for cooling processes.
“Urgent action is needed. It must be borne in mind that water is a nonrenewable source that should be protected,” he said.