Jos Balendonc, Flow-Aid Project, Coordinator Wageningen University & Research Centre
Water shortage forces growers to use deficit irrigation techniques. To avoid crop damage and income losses they need to manage their water and fertilisers more precisely. This may also reduce nutrient leaching, one of the major aims of the European Water Framework Directive.
The Flow-Aid project has developed knowledge and technology to help growers make the best possible operational decisions.
Scientists have co-operated with engineering companies to develop new systems and technologies for irrigation and drainage. The project has resulted in innovative sensor technologies, which are integrated into a grower decision support system. The system has been evaluated and demonstrated at sites located in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
Case studies have shown that the introduction of innovative technologies may raise efficiency in water usage between 10 and 60 per cent, while maintaining existing crop yields. The use of fertilisers may be reduced between 5 and 30 per cent, which reduces costs and saves the environment. Growers may use this extra income for investments in new technologies.
— As told to Iona Stanley/Special to GN Focus
Charlie Fleifel, Chief Executive Officer, Epic Green Solutions
Intelligent water conservation can not only save lives and avoid political conflict, it can save money on electricity and infrastructure (such as pumps and water delivery networks). In this scarce region where we import most of our food we need local food security and a better emergency reserve plan. We need to adopt innovative technologies and not go for the conventional short cuts and bad habits that we are accustomed to.
Epic Green Solutions is the proprietary of one of the most efficient irrigation systems in the world — The Environmental Passive Integrated Chamber (EPIC) — which uses a combination of patented technologies. It uses the properties of capillary attraction to provide a system of subsurface irrigation and drainage. The system consumes 50 per cent — 85 per cent less water than traditional irrigation systems. The system absorbs natural run-off and effluents, storing it for later use.
Our clients include Aldar, Al Dahra Agricultural Company in the UAE, Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu and Aramco in the Saudi Arabia. We are pleased with the response of the GCC authorities and clients who have incorporated our system in their sustainability plans.
— As told to Hina Navin/Special to GN Focus
Rohit Beri, General Manager, Pacific Owners Association Management Services
While a lot of attention is focused on conserving electricity, much less thought — and action — is directed towards saving water.
We are directly involved in running more than 20 buildings in Dubai, and realise only too well the impact and importance of water conservation. In practical terms, excess and wastage is reflected in steep consumption bills for common areas, swimming pools, gardens and landscaping.  
It is our self-adopted role to educate homeowners and residents. Every individual can help conserve water, by observing the following steps:
• Check pipes and faucets for leaks. Even a small drip can waste up to 20 gallons of water per day.
• Avoid using the toilet as an ashtray; each flushed cigarette butt uses five to seven gallons of water.
• Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators. A four-minute shower uses 20 to 40 gallons of water.
• Use dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads.
• Use waterless technology to wash cars.
Water is important for our existence. If water is life, then waterless will simply mean lifeless.
— As told to Iona Stanley/Special to GN Focus
Paola Ferreira, Policy Advisor, Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF
Water provides integral support to our ecosystems in order to sustain all life. Its conservation and management are critical to the interests of all humans, nations and governments around the world. With an increase in demand resulting from a growing population and increasing agricultural and industrial needs, there is a need to conserve this resource.
Individuals and organisations need to be proactive about protecting and conserving water resources. In the UAE, the private sector contributes 30 per cent towards the UAE’s ecological footprint and thus it has a substantial and an active role towards reducing water consumption.
To help the UAE community lower its energy and water use, EWS-WWF launched Heroes of the UAE in partnership with the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi. In particular, the private sector programme focuses on assisting organisations towards lowering their footprint by implementing technical and behavioural changes.
This January, five organisations were recognised for fulfilling the three pledges required by the programme including reducing energy and water consumption by at least 10 per cent each.
— As told to Hina Navin/Special to GN Focus