Abu Dhabi months away from completing water infrastructure projects
GyeongbuK, SOUTH KOREA // Abu Dhabi is just months away from completing large-scale projects, which, in case of an emergency, should ensure a 90-day supply of water for the capital and all of the Western Region.
August or September should see the opening of a Dh1.6 billion project to pump desalinated water to a fresh water underground aquifer near the Liwa oasis in the Western Region.
Testing is already being carried out at the site with seven million gallons of desalinated water being pumped underground every day. In case of an emergency, as much as 40 million gallons of water can be used from the reservoir in a single day – for up to 90 days.
Building started in 2010, but the project was delayed because there had to be modifications in the design, said Dr Mohammed Dawoud, water resources manager at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.
The agency, or EAD, has already overseen a pilot study of a similar project 30 kilometres north of Al Ain, although no decision has been made to go ahead with a large-scale aquifer for that area.
Dr Dawoud was talking on the sidelines of the World Water Forum, a conference and exhibition in Daegu and Gyeongbuk, South Korea, which finished yesterday.
The UAE was represented by a delegation of officials and water experts, organised by Abu Dhabi clean energy company Masdar.
The issue of emergency storage was important for the UAE and the rest of the GCC, due to the reliance on desalination, said Dr Hassan Arafat, associate professor of water and environmental engineering at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.
Dr Arafat delivered a presentation on the environmental impacts of desalination technology on Wednesday.
He said that the total desalination capacity of the six GCC countries is equal to 30 million cubic metres a day. In cases of emergency, Arabian Gulf countries have few other alternatives – and little emergency storage.
“Some GCC countries have three days of storage,” he said.
As well as providing emergency storage, Abu Dhabi has also invested heavily in improving its sewage collection network.
Early next year, Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company (ADSSC) will commission an underground tunnel to take sewage from Abu Dhabi island and the surrounding areas to a treatment plants in Al Wathba.
The Dh5.5bn project, which has been under construction since 2009 and is part of the Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Programme, was one of the UAE water projects showcased in South Korea.
“The main tunnel, which is 43 kilometres, is completed,” said Omar Alhashmi, projects division director at ADSSC. “Seventy per cent of the link sewers, which are 53km, are also completed.”
The remainder of the year, work will be used to complete the pumping station, located at a depth of 100m. The project was expected to be commissioned between January and April 2016.
The new system will mainly rely on gravity to carry out sewage from the capital to sewage treatment facilities in Al Wathba. This, said Mr Alhashmi, would reduce the amount of energy used throughout the system.
“The existing system is based on pumping and gravity, so once the tunnel is completed … we will decommission 34 pumping stations that are causing nuisance, odours, operational problems and consuming power,” he said.
Because of the increased energy efficiency of the new system, it was expected to save Dh231 million in electricity costs over the 80 years of design life for the tunnel. This would translate into 346,608 tonnes of carbon dioxide and other gases harmful to climate not being released into the atmosphere.
Updated: April 16, 2015 04:00 AM