15 million gallons of water harvested by dams during rainfalls in Al Shouka barrier. Image Credit: WAM

Al Ain: The recent rainfall is a blessing for the country. Though the region is among the world’s most arid climates, an increase in the level of groundwater has been filling the reservoirs of more than 50 dams across the country.

Official sources report a collection of an estimated 115 million gallons of water in the country’s dams due to the rains in the central and eastern regions of the emirate between August 29 and September 15.

The heaviest rainfall was on September 14 in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and the neighbouring areas of the northern and eastern emirates.

The Ministry of Environment and Water (MEW) said the dams which have been replenished by the rains are located in Al Ain and Liwa in Abu Dhabi, Kadra, Masafi and Difta in Ras Al Khaimah, Madam, Felli and Wadi Al Helu in Sharjah, and Masafi, Al Heil and Wadi Mai in Fujairah.

Though the rains were not heavy, most of the water made its way into wadis from the neighbouring mountains of Oman. However, the water collection is much less than the levels in 2006 which recorded the highest rainfall in 10 years.  The MEW at that time reported a collection of up to 21 million cubic metres or 4,620 million gallons of water in just 10 days from December 2 to 14.

The MEW’s Water and Dams Section monitors water resource and dams, studies the development and conservation of water resources, controls the consumption of groundwater from the wells, Aflaj and springs as well as water flowing through the wadis.

The ministry has built dams in strategic locations to store surface water. These dams include Ham Dam, Wurayyah Dam, Zikt Dam, Basseirah Dam, Bih Dam, Idhn Dam, Gulfa Dam, Tawiyaeen Dam, and Hadf Dam.

According to meteorologists, August and September are among the driest months of the year. The winter season, from January to April, witnesses the heaviest rainfall.
Cloud formation

During much of year, only small amounts of cumulus (puffy clouds) and stratocumulus clouds (dark, lumpy cloud) form but these clouds are seen more often in winter.

Cumulonimbus clouds (dense clouds involved in thunderstorms and other inclement weather) also develop in the summer months over the Hajar Mountains. These clouds occasionally result in light to heavy rain.

The rising water level is also raising concerns in some cities like Al Ain where civic administrations, with the help of various government agencies, have been taking measures to control any possible damage to the infrastructure as well as danger to public safety.

Abdullah Sultan Al Derei, Head of Studies and Infrastructure Development at Al Ain Municipality, said a series of measures has been adopted to reduce the water level at the Tilapia Lake. The water has also been tested to ensure it is free from contamination. The  level is being closely monitored with the help of the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, the sewage services and Al Ain Police. Different measures are being used to reduce the water level since August and roads leading to the lake have been blocked for public safety.

Al Derei said warning boards in Arabic, English and Urdu have been installed around the lake urging people to stay away. Permanent fences are also being installed.