Dubai: The issue of water security is a national security issue for the UAE, the head of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) said during the Water Business Forum at Expo 2020 Dubai on Tuesday.
The event at Dubai Exhibition Centre coincided with World Water Day and happened on the third day of ‘Water Week’ (running until March 26) – the final of Expo 2020 Dubai’s 10 ‘Theme Weeks’, under the ‘Programme for People and Planet’.
Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, DEWA managing director and CEO, said: “Water security affects 40 per cent of the world’s population. [It] is a national security issue for the UAE and is one of the seven strategic sectors of the National Innovation Strategy. To ensure access to water for all, the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036 aims to ensure sustainable access to water during normal and emergency conditions, as well as address future water security challenges in the long run.”
During a dedicated conversation on the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, Suhail Muhammad Faraj Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said: “People don’t know that in the UAE, we’re consuming more from the ground than we are consuming from all of the desalination plants in the country.”
He added: “When you understand how much rainfall we get, then it’s a no-brainer that we are depleting our aquifers – and that has to stop. So, we had to think back then: ‘How can we provide affordable desalinated water for the farmers to stop taking the underground water?’ And no one had done that – that was very challenging. If you ask anyone, from a cost point of view, that’s very challenging.”
The overall objectives of the strategy, unveiled in September 2017, are to reduce total demand for water resources by 21 per cent; increase the water productivity index to $110 per cubic metre; reduce the water scarcity index; increase the reuse of treated water to 95 per cent; and increase national water storage capacity up to two days.