Experts discuss ways to conserve groundwater for future generation

WAM Abu Dhabi, 27 March, 2013 (WAM)– Plans are afoot in Abu Dhabi to conserve groundwater by raising awareness about the groundwater as a national strategic resource that should be managed and protected for future generations.

“Groundwater conservation is a strategic priority for the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD). As the government authority mandated with environmental regulation, policy advice and protection, EAD has consolidated its efforts to respond with a set of initiatives to address this strategic dwindling resource. To achieve this goal, we work very closely with our partners and in particular with the agricultural sector, to prioritise where and how we allocate water and to be efficient with every drop,” said Dr. Mohamed Al Madfaei, Executive Director of EAD’s Integrated Environment Policy and Planning Sector.

The remarks were made yesterday at a panel of discussion, entitled “The Status of Groundwater in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi”, organised by the EAD in collaboration with the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), to commemorate World Water Day.

Five specialists in the field of water participated in the discussion panel, which was hosted by the ECSSR and moderated by Monir Bou Ghanem, EAD’s Director of Environment Policy ‘&’ Planning Division.

Dr. Mohamed Dawoud, Water Resources Senior Expert at EAD said “In Abu Dhabi, groundwater is a non-renewable resource, while at present there are three sources of water in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, groundwater which accounted for about 63.6%, desalinated water accounts for about 29.2% and treated sewage water represents about 7.2% of the total water resources used.

He added “Water resources are used in different development sectors, where the agricultural sector employs 57.98% of the total consumed water, urban sector (domestic) 9.75%, and the forest sector 11.73%, and the gardens and parks 13.38% in addition to industrial and commercial uses, 7.16%”.

Dr. Dawoud noted “In recent years, EAD has led several long-term initiatives in partnership with other government entities to address the groundwater problem and work towards the sustainability of this strategic resource. These initiatives include the management and monitoring of groundwater in the Emirate, the development of a strategy to promote the use of recycled water, the enforcement of Law No. (6) for the year 2006 which regulates the drilling of groundwater wells, the construction of a groundwater aquifer in Liwa and Shweib and the rolling out of awareness initiatives targeting farm and land owners”.

Ali Al Marzouqi, Planning Development Division Director at Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre (ADFSC), said the role of the farmers’ center focuses on minimising the environmental impact of agriculture and reducing water use in agriculture and increasing the contribution of agriculture sector in enhancing food security.

“The Centre is focusing on increasing farming productivity and contributing to national food security and sustainable agriculture, improving irrigation efficiency in order to reduce water consumption in Abu Dhabi’s farms by 40%. The Centre also promotes new types of crops and cultivation of innovative patterns that improve water use efficiency and resistance to salinity and water scarcity,”. he added.

Dr. Ala’a Juma, Agricultural Advisor at the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), spoke about the role of ADFCA in maintaining the groundwater reserves in the Emirate through the rationalisation of consumption and stop the waste that threatens the future of water and food security in the Emirate.

Dr. Khalil Ahmed Ammar, Water Resources Management Scientist at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), gave a number of recommendations to be adopted. Among these recommendations were integrated planning of water resources in the Emirate and shaping water policy and clear management of water resources in order to achieve sustainable management of water resources.

During the event, EAD shared a timeline explaining Abu Dhabi’s Groundwater through the years, from the 1960s until 2013.

latheef WAM/LTF