Domestic water consumption accounts for 18.5 per cent of total consumption in Abu Dhabi, translating into roughly 550 litres per capita per day. Image Credit: Asghar Khan/Gulf News

Dubai: Abu Dhabi's thirst for fresh water will double to 6.6 trillion litres annually by 2030, pushing the emirate toward "severe water" shortages if demand is not curtailed in the near future, a water expert told an agricultural forum on Monday.

Dr Mohammad Dawoud, Water Resources Manager of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), lauded efforts to implement the latest water master plan updated in 2009 but warned more measures are essential to ensure critical aquifers aren't bled dry in decades to come.

"By 2030, water consumption will be doubled in Abu Dhabi, that is the demand," Dawoud told Gulf News after addressing delegates attending the Agribusiness Outlook Forum in Dubai, a gathering hosted by AGRA and VET Middle East exhibitions. "We have a need for more investment in the water sector to overcome the gap in resources and demand."

New technologies

New water-miser technologies will be recommended for implementation across Abu Dhabi by the EAD in its new Environment 2030 master plan report slated for public release as early as May or June.

Some of the measures recommended for government consideration will be water-saving faucets, water treatment recycling devices, and vastly improved crop irrigation methods that could shave 40 per cent off agriculture water demands that make up 57 per cent of annual water consumption in Abu Dhabi.

"We have to increase the supply and we have to work to reduce the demand," Dawoud said. "It is possible, of course."

Domestic water consumption makes up a further 18.5 per cent of the total in Abu Dhabi, translating into roughly 550 litres per capita, per day, he said.

Water demand is being currently met in three areas with groundwater providing 65 per cent of total consumption in Abu Dhabi, desalinated water contributing as much as 29 per cent and treated wastewater providing about seven per cent.

"This consumption, combined with the predicted population growth in Abu Dhabi to 3.5 million in 2030, means we could face severe water shortages in the future, and need to rethink about water usage efficiency now," Dawoud said.

"Governments are making efforts to improve water usage efficiency in agriculture through four main pillars — policy and strategy, technologies, legislations and regulations, and education and awareness — to increase the economic value of water and efficient use by farm owners," he said.