Saudi Arabia water reservoir
A water reservoir in Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture began implementing the executive regulation for the protection of water from pollution across the Kingdom, looking to tighten its grip on natural water resources as it invests heavily in new sources of production, local media reported.

The new legislation stipulates a fine ranging from 10,000 riyals to 20 million riyals for throwing wastewater or any untreated liquid components, discharging or injecting them into groundwater or into any environmental medium, according to the amount of wastewater, pollution, the duration and the affected area.

It also states that all surface and groundwater resources are now public property, and can only be used by acquiring a licence from the country’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. Licences are non-transferable, and breaking the rules could result in a fine of up to SR20 million ($5.3 million), it said.

Poorly regulated corporate and commercial use of scarce natural resources has in the past been a key factor behind the unsustainable level of groundwater withdrawals in Saudi Arabia.

An ambitious desalination and wastewater reuse PPP programme is well under way, led by the Saudi Water Partnership Company.

Offenders are now obligated to stop the sewage, treat the damage, pay compensation, and the violations of environmental crimes will be referred to the Public Prosecution.

Most notable violations and penalties

Failure to comply with the standards of treated wastewater before discharging carries fines ranging from SR 10,000 to SR500,000.

Non-compliance with standards related to wastewater treatment technologies carries a fine of between SR50,000 and SR5 million;

Fines of between SR50,000 and SR5 million will be imposed on offenders, who fail to comply with the controls related to downfalls.