Abu Dhabi on Monday unveiled the world’s largest reserve of high quality desalinated water, secured in a network of 315 recovery wells lying up to 80 metres below the Liwa Desert.
The wells are fed by one of the UAE's longest water pipeline networks which runs the water from Shuweihat desalination plant at a rate of 7 million imperial gallons per day over 27 months.
The reserve, which has at its core an infiltration and recovery system sitting atop a natural fresh water underground aquifer, was first investigated in 2002 and has been extensively researched by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), a statement said.
“The reserve acts as a safety net for the provision of water and is now being regarded as an excellent regional model for foresight and planning,” said Saif Al Seairi, acting director general, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA).
“We applaud the efforts of the team that worked hard in some of the harshest desert conditions and in an environment of a constantly undulating landscape. The project team overcame considerable challenges to complete this one-of-a-kind scheme and lessons learned have been shared with our regional partners.”
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary general, EAD, said the project has addressed Abu Dhabi’s water security and its resilience through the recharge of groundwater aquifers with high-quality desalinated water, which cannot be stored above ground due to contamination and other factors.
Established in one of the world’s driest areas where rainfall rarely exceeds 10cm a year, the project has been completed at an estimated cost of AED1.61 billion ($435.6 million) to deliver a fallback pumping capacity of 100 million gallons of water per day to the emirate if required.
The project ensures continuous water supply for Abu Dhabi city and Al Dhafra region and secures the reserve for future generations.
The reserve now holds more than 26 million cubic metres of water that can bolster drinking water supply when needed.
The Liwa desert was chosen for the project after it met strict specification criteria.
Water quality is ensured through strict control, heat and salinity monitoring equipment and a range of other metrics.
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