Water project party as Dubai demand rockets

Demand for water in the emirate is growing at a massive 14% per year

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By  Angela Giuffrida Published  December 24, 2005

A raft of new sewage treatment and desalination projects are being planned across the UAE, as demand for water soars. Demand is running at its highest in Dubai — increasing at a rate of 14% every year. Now international water engineering groups and contractors are converging on the emirate to cash-in on the anticipated work bonanza. A major sewage treatment plant will be built at Jebel Ali and is expected to recycle 65.9 million gallons of wastewater a day by the time it is completed in 2009. Three new desalination units are also planned for the site and they will increase current production capacity by 159.4 million gallons a day within the next two years. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is also boosting production at the Al Aweer wastewater plant by 10.9 million gallons a day and is in talks over plans to construct new sites in the emirate. The move comes as the government and developers wrangle over the region’s dwindling water supplies. The Middle East currently consumes 1% of the world’s fresh water resources. Water consumption in the UAE is expected to reach 600 million gallons per day by 2015. Although Dubai Municipality has issued a ban on the use of fresh water for irrigation purposes, the construction boom and widespread use of water on golf courses, gardens and fountains has left the region facing a severe water shortage. “Apart from the fact that the population is growing and consumption is increasing, new building developments are announced almost every day, and this is of serious concern to the government,” said Mahmoud Kabeel, plant sales manager at Metito, a Sharjah-based company that designs water and sewage treatment plants. About 45 million people in the Middle East are denied access to safe water, according to a report published by the World Bank in 2003. And Global Water Intelligence estimates that although the GCC currently spends US $699 million a year on wastewater treatment, only 1% is recycled, and mostly for farming and landscaping purposes. “The Middle East is the driest area in the world,” added Kabeel. “The government needs to encourage mass developers to install facilities for water reuse. If all the main players headed in the same direction then maybe we could tackle the water shortage problem and balance the ratio between the amount consumed and recycled.”

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