Saudi wasting up to 30% of groundwater - scholar

Kingdom could reduce the amount of water wasted to 5% if it changed technology.
Saudi wasting up to 30% of groundwater - scholar
WATER RESOURCE:Saudi Arabia’s eight aquifers contain 1,825 billion cubic metres of water, Urban Water Research Centres Abahusayn said. (Bloomberg Images)
By Bloomberg
Mon 27 Sep 2010 12:18 PM

Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, is wasting as much as 30 percent of its finite groundwater resources by using outdated extraction methods, according to a water expert.

“Saudi Arabia could reduce the amount of water wasted to 5 percent if it changed technology,” Mansur Abahusayn, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Irvine, Urban Water Research Centre, said at a renewable energy conference in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

“Groundwater is under very heavy pressure because Saudi Arabia has a large inland population.”

Saudi Arabia’s eight aquifers contain 1,825 billion cubic metres of water, Abahusayn said.

This will run out within 200 years at current usage rates, whereas new technology would allow the country to conserve supplies for 400 years, he said.

Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil producer in the Middle East, is increasingly concerned about the high consumption rate of its natural resources.

Domestic use of oil and natural gas is growing faster than the kingdom’s population and economy, central bank Governor Muhammad Al Jasser said on Sunday.

Replacing groundwater with desalinated water, produced hundreds of kilometres away at the coast, would cost 8.8 riyals ($2.35) per cubic metre, Abahusayn said.

Saudi Arabians used 5.5 million cubic metres a day of potable water in 2007, Abahusayn said.

This will rise to 9 million cubic metres a day in 2015, and 13 million by 2039, he said.

About 55 percent of the supply comes from seawater, while the rest is from groundwater, he said. (Bloomberg)

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