Water shortage looming in Saudi Arabia!


September 13, 2022

Saudi Arabia has two liquids -- water and oil, considered by many to be the kingdom's most important natural resource. For Saudis, however, water is becoming increasingly precious, even more so than oil, not that it is more expensive. In recent years,​ Rising oil revenues in Saudi Arabia have allowed skyscrapers to be built at a break rate, but water supplies to dwindle. As it turns out, this resource may run out, the end is near, and threaten the survival of the desert kingdom. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia started with oil, may fall with water, so how serious is Saudi Arabia's "water shortage"?

We know that the main source of fresh water on the Saudi Peninsula is the Arabian aquifer, which was formed 20,000 years ago when the region's climate was much wetter. This is one of the largest aquifers in the world, with water depths ranging from 100 to 500 meters and reaching as deep as 2,500 meters. When aquifers reach the surface, springs form. Aquifers are the custodians of groundwater resources because Saudi Arabia is a desert country with no permanent rivers and lakes and very little rainfall, so the main source of water here is aquifers.

The groundwater in the deep sandstone aquifers is non-renewable fossil water, while the deep mountain aquifers are of sedimentary origin, usually sandstone and limestone, and extend for thousands of square kilometers with little natural recharge. Among these aquifers, the major ones are the Sagg, Wajid, Tabuk, Minjur and Durma, Vasia-Biad, Um Ladouma, Daman, Neogene. Since the 1970s, significant efforts have been made by the government to map these aquifers so that Wells can be drilled for urban and agricultural purposes 39bet-xsmb-xổ số tây ninh-xổ số binh phước-xổ số binh dương-xổ số đồng nai.

When Saudi Arabia began intensive modern agriculture in the mid-1980s, there was as much as 500 cubic kilometers of water beneath the desert, enough to fill Lake Erie in the United States. But in recent years, the amount of water pumped to the surface for agriculture has dropped to 21 cubic kilometers a year. Saudi Arabia has extracted at least 400 cubic kilometers of the aquifer, based on production. Experts estimate that 80 percent of Saudi mineral water is no longer available. This means that one of the largest and oldest reserves of fresh water on Earth, in the hottest and driest places, has become virtually empty in less than a generation. Why does this happen?

From the sky, the landscape of Saudi Arabia is dotted with greenery. As a result of irrigation, these farms appear in the desert. Nearby, in huge buildings, live thousands of cows whose water and cooling needs are enormous. Until recently, the water used to create these wonders was inadvertently pumped deep into the Earth's surface. The country has decided to be self-sufficient rather than import products from other countries. However, the decision has proved disastrous.

In the mid-1980s, Saudi Arabia implemented an ambitious agricultural program to use ancient fossil water to grow crops in desert areas, and central irrigation systems have been installed in the barren Wadi As Sirhan basin in the northwest of the country. Water that has been buried deep in the ground for thousands of years is now used to grow fruit, vegetables and wheat. Landowners have unrestricted free access to water from aquifers to maintain irrigated farmland in the desert. This is exacerbated by the fact that 35% of agricultural land is irrigated conventionally, which wastes more water than either drip or sprinkler systems.

As a result, by the 1990s, Saudi Arabia was pumping an average of 5 trillion gallons of water a year, enough to drain Lake Erie in 25 years. Saudi Arabia's deputy agriculture minister for research and development says Saudi agriculture is the biggest user of water, absorbing 85 to 90 percent. Of that, nearly 80 to 85 percent falls on aquifers, but that's not all. In Saudi Arabia, high levels of private consumption exacerbate the problem of water supply shortages. Urbanization and the improvement of lifestyle lead people to use more water to meet their needs.

In fact, the average person in Saudi Arabia consumes 266 litres of water a day, twice as much as the average citizen of the European Union. Water resources are not only depleted individually, but also spread across the country, and the country's economy is increasingly demanding water. Industrial water use is growing at 7.5% a year and will increase by 50% by 2032. Another problem is weak institutional capacity and governance, which also reflects the general characteristics of the public sector in Saudi Arabia. Experts are sounding the alarm that overuse, demographic and economic pressures could push Saudi Arabia's water supply to its limits.

According to experts' estimates, natural water resources in some parts of the country are threatened with extinction within the next 20 years. The problem, as stated earlier, is that there is not enough water in the aquifer in Saudi Arabia, where rainfall averages between 100 and 200 mm per year, making the region's groundwater a non-renewable resource. Scientists predicted in 2008 that it would be 50 years before groundwater could be pumped, so local wheat production had to stop.

e041ce686cc9c95697f185b42150c8aeTo avoid food shortages, an agriculture and livestock investment company was set up in 2011 to provide the equivalent of $800 million in food supplies. The company has invested in the Canadian Wheat Board, which means some Canadian grain will be shipped to Saudi Arabia. In addition to Canada, Australia and Brazil have become priority investment areas for various grains and red meat, and the Saudi government relies almost entirely on crops imported from other countries to feed its 30 million people. Outsourcing food production to countries such as Sudan and Ukraine, as well as others in South America and Asia, helped Saudi Arabia grow its own food for export back to the kingdom. Local farmers are encouraged to engage in alternative agricultural activities and use modern drip irrigation methods to grow fruits and vegetables in greenhouses.

By 2014, Saudi Arabia's agricultural imports to the United States were at an all-time high. Not only that, the country imports water from the United States in the form of food, but that doesn't completely solve the water problem. So the kingdom is in seawater desalination, water distribution, health and waste water treatment to attract investment, by 2014, about 50% of drinking water from seawater desalination, 40% from unsustainable exploitation of groundwater, only 10% of the surface water from the southwest mountainous area of the country, 467 km away from the Persian gulf in Riyadh, extraction, seawater desalination, But water supplies remain severely inadequate, only once every two and a half days, compared with once every nine days in Jeddah.

In 2019, Saudi Arabia launched a national plan called "Katra" to reduce water use. Under the plan, the country aims to reduce water consumption by about 43 percent to 150 liters per person per day by 2030. In addition, the plan rationalizes water sources to best protect natural resources and all aspects of life that depend on water. The move turned out to be very successful.

Now, in 2022, Saudi Arabia is second only to the United States and Canada in terms of per capita water consumption. Saudi Arabia is a good example of how mismanagement of water resources can have serious consequences for the water sector. Especially given that climate change is putting pressure on the availability and quality of water resources. However, Saudi Arabia is also an example of water scarcity management, and by developing desalination plants, expanding water recycling processes and infrastructure, and shifting from local agriculture to food outsourcing, the country is doing what it can to secure water supplies. The importance of water is self-evident, without oil, people can survive, but without water, human beings can only perish!

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