099976f94d868210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q3Conservation is key to ensuring water supplyf89976f94d868210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____Conservation is key to ensuring water supplyJust off the coast of Jebel Ali, against the soaring skyline of Dubai, one of the world's largest desalination plants is nearing the final stages of completion.<p>Just off the coast of Jebel Ali, against the soaring skyline of Dubai, one of the world's largest desalination plants is nearing the final stages of completion. When finished, the Jebel Ali Desalination Plant will be expected to churn out 530 million litres of water per day - enough to fill more than 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
This is not only to power the UAE's phenomenal growth, but also to serve personal consumption requirements, which, as The National reports today, are a serious concern for the country. At over 500 litres per capita per day, residents here are among the world's largest consumers of water in one of the driest places on Earth. We also happen to have the least renewable water resources of all the countries in the Middle East and North Africa. At the current consumption rate, underground water resources will be exhausted in 50 years. So disappear the mangroves, wadis and animal life that rely on this diminishing resource, not to mention the marine life threatened by the saline by-product of desalination plants.</p>
<p>Despite these dire circumstances, it seems that many respondents polled in a national survey are ill-informed about where the water they so easily consume comes from. Forty-five per cent wrongly replied that the UAE's water is supplied by aquifers and oases, 23 per cent assumed drinking water is imported, 5 per cent put the burden on non-existent streams and rivers, while 3 per cent chalked it up to cloud seeding. This suggests the bedrock of a solution: educate people about water usage, including details about their own consumption.</p>
<p>Despite the challenges, an enthusiastic 72 per cent of those polled expressed a desire to tackle the problem. A large number of respondents would be open to using grey water - recycled from bath, shower and sink waste - for a range of uses, including laundry, flushing toilets, watering plants, cleaning the house and washing cars.
Many of those polled also disapproved of landscaping that uses non-native grass and plants as well as fountains and artificial lakes to beautify the city, echoing a criticism of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development that cited the wastage of water on the UAE's golf courses earlier this year. Together the results demonstrate an eagerness on the part of residents to conserve water in partnership with the Government's efforts that are being led by agencies such as the Emirates Wildlife Society and the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi.</p>
<p>A concerted, immediate effort by both the Government and society, supported by a public awareness campaign, is the key to sustaining the progress that the UAE has so quickly achieved. Water conservation practices such as installing water metres to check for leaks, using water-saving shower heads and low-flow tap aerators, and adopting waterless car-washing systems (such as the ones at some Enoc stations in Dubai) are just a few ways to begin conserving. An environmental campaign in schools should also be implemented to teach the next generation about its responsibilities.</p>
<p>The pools, gardens, car washes, golf courses and landscaping we have taken for granted must be re-evaluated in the context of our rapidly disappearing water resources. So too must we look back on the region's arid legacy to realise just how precious these drops of water in the desert truly are.</p>