Management of water resources for sustainable development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Project: Research

Project Details


Rapid growth of population, insufficient recharge, increased agricultural and landscaping activities and implications of global warming have increased pressure on the water resource systems in Saudi Arabia. Water demand for the kingdom was estimated to be ~24500 million cubic meters (MCM) in 2010, which is increasing at the rate of ~1.7% per year. Water demands in Saudi Arabia are currently satisfied by non-renewable groundwater, renewable surface and groundwater, desalinated water and treated wastewater, in which the nonrenewable groundwater sources supply the most followed by renewable surface and groundwater, desalinated water and treated wastewater. At the current rate of increase in water usages, a total of ~5250 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM) water will be needed in Saudi Arabia to meet the demands through 2010 to 2100. Water reserves in the non-renewable groundwater sources were estimated to be 2200 BCM with an annual recharge of 2750 MCM. The renewable groundwater sources have the reserves of ~84 BCM with an annual ~1,200 MCM recharge. Annual runoff in the kingdom was estimated to be 2230 MCM, from which ~775 MCM are stored using 185 dams for groundwater recharges and flood control. Approximately 8000 MCM/year water is currently extracted from this source. The production of desalinated water has been estimated to be ~1100 MCM/year with a yearly increase rate of 3%. Desalinated water is mostly used for domestic purposes in the major cities, where ~80% of the domestic needs are satisfied by desalinated water. Overall, desalinated water supplies ~52% of the yearly domestic water need in the country. A small fraction of treated wastewater has been used in the country. In 2001, approximately 1500 MCM domestic wastewater was produced, in which 475 MCM was treated and only 158 was recycled for reuse. In 2005, nearly 310 MCM treated wastewater reuse was reported. Statics demonstrates that the current practices of water use may exhaust the renewable groundwater in less than 20 years. Further to this, it has been estimated that the total reserves, annual recharges, current rate of increase in desalinated water production and reuse of treated wastewater may contribute up to 2700 BCM water through 2010 to 2100. These are ~50% of the cumulative water demands during this period. In addition, it is unlikely that all water in reserves can be extracted. Furthermore, possible adverse effects of climatic changes may have implications on future water reserves and recharges. It is important that water usages practice in Saudi Arabia be reviewed. The proposed research will investigate sustainability of current practices of water uses. Generic models of water demands and supplies will be developed to achieve sustainable solution. Several options for water demands and supplies will be assessed through considering uncertainty in water resources and demands. Three key points will also be investigated for water demand and supply balance: (i) percentage of domestic wastewater to be recycled for reuse; (ii) percentage of agricultural needs to be satisfied by treated wastewater; and (iii) percentage of domestic water demands to be supplied by the desalinated water and possible environmental implications. Finally, overall costs for each of the options will be estimated to guide the selection of the appropriate option.
Effective start/end date1/05/111/05/14


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