Water scarcity is a preventive issue in UAE. The gap between availability and demand leads to a situation called water stress. Water stress is expected to rise to alarmingly high levels owing to demographic factors like population and increased consumption and legal factors like government policies enforced in this direction. Conservation and effective utilization of available water resources is a must to support the current population and the future generations. Desalination provides a non-conventional technique of re-utilizing disposed or water from marine areas for intensive applications like irrigating agricultural fields by removing the salt content.
According to the US Geological Survey, water containing a saline level of 1,000-3,000 ppm (parts per million) is less saline. Saline level between 3,000-10,000 ppm and 10,000 ppm-35,000 ppm comprise of moderately and highly saline water respectively. Water comprising of a saline level less than 1,000 ppm is regarded as fresh water and is safe for drinking, household as well as for agricultural purposes.
Examples of certain recent projects include the Federal Strategy for UAE’s green economic growth that is under development. This strategy will encompass seven economic sectors including water and suggest measures to reduce the nation’s environmental impact across these sectors.
There are several methods of desalination such as Reverse osmosis, Forward osmosis, Electro dialysis, Thermal desalination, Multi-stage flash distillation and Multiple-effect distillation. However, being a costly process so far only the developed countries can afford to carry it out on a massive scale. The Middle Eastern countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel are large producers of desalinated water. Saudi Arabia that is currently the largest producer of desalinated water uses multi-stage flash distillation method for the process. Fujairah in UAE is an area where the innovative concept of desalination has been successfully implemented. The hybrid desalination plant in Fujairah employs a combination of reverse osmosis and multi stage flash method to produce a high desalination capacity equivalent to 455,000 cubic meters per day.
The treatment and recycling of water in the Middle East is an issue facing ample attention owing to the amount of challenges it poses especially in the modern society . Due to the limited availability of resources and subsequent rise in population as well as developments, it has become imperative to adopt adequate measures to face the problem. It is indispensible to make facilities for arrangement of fresh water and its subsequent management and treatment after use. To promote large scale application of desalination government needs to introduce reforms like provision of subsidies on usage of desalinated water to irrigate agricultural fields. This will also bolster technologies in the direction of desalination and hence in the long run bring rebates in the costs incurred upon desalination plants.
Water desalination despite being expensive presents an efficient way to combat the challenge of fresh-water shortage. To promote its growth to meet the increasing demands of water and to mitigate issues like water stress, reforms like subsidizing usage of desalinated water for irrigation is a good incentive. The concept of desalinated water production to meet demographic needs like irrigation has been successful in the area of Fujairah which is one of the highest operating units.
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