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Water sector needs huge investments
Riyadh, 12th August 2001

 With water consumption in the Kingdom expected to exceed 20 billion cubic meters by the year 2010, the authorities are faced with a challenge — finding the means and resources to ensure consistent water supply to the fast growing population.

“The desalinated sea water constitutes around 70 percent of water supply in Saudi Arabia,” said a new study, which gives an overview of the water resources in the Gulf region with special reference to Saudi Arabia.

The study was carried out by the Dubai-based Middle East Desalination Research Agency (MEDRA).

The Kingdom is the largest producer of desalinated water in the world with an output amounting to 30 percent of the world’s total. The government has set up 27 desalination and power plants with a capacity of two million cubic meters of drinking water and 2,800 megawatts of electricity a day.

The Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) has a 2,000-km long pipeline network, which connects 29 pumping and mixing stations across the country. Its 108 storage tanks have a total capacity of six million cubic meters.

Referring to future investments in the water sector, the study said Saudi Arabia will need an estimated $200 billion to implement a substantial number of projects for water desalination and power generation in the next 20 years. The government has decided to use gas as a feedstock in future desalination projects in order to reduce dependence on oil.

The government has prepared a comprehensive national plan to ensure water security. The plan aims at realizing optimum use of water resources and rationalizing consumption.

The plan also envisages proper utilization of rainwater. Saudi Arabia gets an average of 100mm rainfall annually, but the mountainous southwestern region records up to 800mm rainfall. In order to preserve rainwater, the Kingdom has built 184 dams with a storage capacity of 482 million cubic meters.

Meanwhile, the SWCC is in the process of setting up new desalination projects with an installed capacity of over 2.7 million cubic meters daily.

These projects will cater to the water and power requirements of many Saudi cities and far-flung villages.

On a regional level, the situation on the waterfront is alarming. Arab countries represent 10.3 percent of the world’s surface area and 4.5 percent of the world’s population, but they only possess 0.4 percent of world’s recoverable water resources and share only two percent of the world’s total rainfall.

Source: Arab News©

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