An article written by Caline Malek in The National, the longest-standing English language news publication in the United Arab Emirates, paints a grim picture for the wealthy country.
According to new research from the United Nationals Food and Agriculture Organization, supplies of groundwater could run out by 2030 as a result of overuse in agriculture.
The agricultural sector expanded massively between 1990 and 2010, more than tripling in size
A critical resource
Groundwater is the UAE’s main conventional water resource, and the water table has fallen by as much as 60%, according to a new study by scientists at UAE University.
Groundwater supplies about 70% of the country’s needs. Most of the water is used for crop irrigation, with a small quantity earmarked for direct human consumption in the Northern Emirates.
Desalinated water is primarily used for human consumption, and accounts for around 24% of the country’s water. Treated wastewater tallies about 6% of the available water, and is mostly used in irrigating amenities like landscaping and forestry (not used for growing crops, as cultural and religious perspectives preclude the use of wastewater in crop production).
Change where it’s necessary
In Abu Dhabi, 240 sample farms are testing a treated wastewater irrigation system and an additional 3,000 are tagged to join the program in the future.
The UAE Water Conservation Strategy envisions a future where groundwater resources are maintained at a constant 2.3 million cubic metres per year, the study from UAE University found.
Most of the food in the country is imported. But the country invests significant efforts in crop production to achieve as much food security as possible.
The population in the UAE is expected to double by 2030, accounting for a portion of the increased demand on groundwater aquifers, and groundwater resources will have to support larger food production benchmarks.
Recommendations from the study
The study made a handful of recommendations for decision makers in the country, including enacting water use priorities and cultivating more naturalized plants for food and ornamental purposes.
The most significant recommendation, in our eyes, is the implementation of long-term groundwater monitoring systems. Monitoring systems will allow more precise irrigation management where farms can avoid over pumping and over irrigating.
If you’re ready to implement this recommendation, contact Heron Instruments today. We can ship to any country in the world!