Sewage treatment plan is set to meet water demand

Dubai Municipality is planning to pump millions of dollars into recycling wastewater for irrigation

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By  Angela Giuffrida Published  January 28, 2006

DUBAI will spend around US $381 million (AED 1.4 billion) on sewage treatment facilities over the next five years. The move comes as the government grapples to conserve the emirate’s dwindling supply of fresh water, demand for which is growing at a massive 14% a year. The plan is to step up the production of recycled wastewater for irrigation and industrial purposes, but discussions may also focus on the possibility of using treated effluent for potable water supply. “Dubai Municipality is concerned with generating fresh water, and we are working with them on strategies to try and conserve it,” said Abdullah Al Hajri, corporate communications manager at Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). “At the moment, the existing sewage treatment plants can only produce wastewater for use on irrigation, but maybe using treated wastewater in homes is something that will be considered in the future.” Work on the Jebel Ali Sewage Treatment Plant is due to begin in June. It will recycle 65.9 million gallons of wastewater per day by the time it is completed in 2009. The plant will be built in two phases, with the first phase costing $272 million. The increased production capacity is expected to meet Dubai’s ongoing construction demands until at least 2010, but it will continue to be expanded according to requirements, with the aim of serving five million people by 2030. Other projects include the construction of pumping stations, and the Mirdif drainage and irrigation project, which will cover 1000 ha and is expected to be complete within the next two years. Work is also underway to set up a new sewage treatment plant in Al Aweer, with the aim of boosting production by 10.9 million gallons a day. Talib Julfar, director of the Drainage and Irrigation Department at Dubai Municipality confirmed that sewage water has already started flowing to the new plant, where it will be treated to produce irrigation water. A raft of new desalination plants are also planned. Up to 70% of total water supplies to the UAE are desalinated; developers are also being encouraged to install on-site water treatment facilities. “Within the next five years, we expect to see a 13-15% growth in water production,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of DEWA. “So we are investing a lot of money in generating new desalination plants. “We’re also meeting developers to talk about ways of working together on this — if developers have a water treatment plant on site they will be much more efficient.”

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