x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Sharjah in bid to cut water use

The emirate is stepping up efforts to curb water use across the emirate by requiring businesses and other big customers to recycle waste washing water, a senior official says.

The Sharjah Government is stepping up efforts to curb water use across the emirate by requiring businesses and other big customers to recycle waste washing water, a senior official says.

Sharjah has worked for two years to reduce water consumption by using advanced technology, improving re-use and introducing prices that are at least three times those in Abu Dhabi.The Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) has few resources to build large desalination plants, analysts say, and is anxious to protect remaining groundwater supplies.

The same strategies are being adopted in Abu Dhabi and across the region as government officials explore ways to slow rapid consumption. SEWA has ordered recycling systems be installed in 170 large commercial buildings, mosques and institutions since last year, Asam al Mulla, the manager of SEWA's general directorate of water, said yesterday.

The "grey-water" treatment systems collect wastewater from sinks and washing machines, filter it in large tanks and re-use it for non-potable applications such as flushing toilets. They do not process waste from toilets.

The grey-water systems, funded by building owners, reduce water bills by as much as 40 per cent, Mr al Mulla said. "Water conservation is not just a need, it's a must," he said. "If an end-user is not working with us to save water … it won't work." The Abu Dhabi Government is evaluating regulations to encourage grey-water recycling. Almost all such water flows into the emirate's sewerage system.

The grey-water regulations come as part of a larger campaign in which SEWA installed water-saving fixtures in 3,000 apartments and villas and digital water meters for 20,000 customers who previously paid a flat monthly rate, Mr al Mulla said. The utility also increased water rates in 2008 when it switched to a progressive tariff system.

cstanton@thenational.ae