The United Arab Emirates might be rich with oil and gas reserves, but it still has a problem with steady water supply.
Especially now that the people, which number ballooned to 100 times since 1960, have a close relationship with water: they are among the world’s highest consumers at about 600 liters per day per person. It doesn’t help that climate change poses a threat to water security in the region.
For that, its government knew that something had to be done to meet water demands. Plans to build a huge water reserve were initiated back in 2002.
Roughly sixteen years later, officials have unveiled the world’s largest reserve of artificially desalinated water at the launch of the 2018 International Water Summit in Abu Dhabi, January 15.
“The project ensures continuous water supply for Abu Dhabi city and the Al Dhafra region and secures the reserve for future generations,” Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) Director-General Dr. Saif Saleh al-Sayari told the Emirates News Agency.
“Whenever needed, water from the 315 wells, lying up to (260 feet) below ground, can be used to recover supplies at any time.”
Located under the Liwa desert at the southern edge of Abu Dhabi, the water reserve contains about 26 billion liters of high-quality drinking water, taking 26 months to fill it up.
Photo by ADWEA
At present capacity, the reserve can provide about 100 million liters of water per day to the country’s residents – that’s only a fraction of the 6 billion liters of daily consumption in Abu Dhabi. In an emergency situation, it could supply the needs of one-million people with 180 liters per person every day for three months.
The project costs about $450 million with a construction period of over five years.
Photo by ADWEA
Large pipes, about 1 meter in diameter, were installed to transport the desalinated water to the people. But before that, the water is dumped about 80 meters underground through perforated pipes, where it seeps deeper into the aquifer. More than 300 wells, as already mentioned, to recharge, recover, and observe the aquifer’s water were provided.
Al Seairi mentioned about sharing the lesson learned in building the reserve with “regional partners.” This means making the process of building a reserve slightly cheaper for them.