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The water resources of the united Arab emirates: a comprehensive empirical appraisal of their status and management

Uqba, Khaled Ali (1991) The water resources of the united Arab emirates: a comprehensive empirical appraisal of their status and management. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The expansion in the cultivated area since the mid-1970s, and the eventual high demand for water, have taxed the groundwater resources of the Emirates to the limit. The annual groundwater abstraction by agriculture, based on average discharge measurements for the present study, is put at 2556 MCM/a. while the overall groundwater volume abstracted by all sectors is 3359 MCM/a; the total output from all the desalination plants at 300 MCM/a, and that from the wastewater recycling plants at 80 MCM/a. With the population for 1989 standing at .1.8 million, the per capita consumption is 2116 m(^3)/a, which is close to that for the United States of America (2300 m(^3)/a ).The water resource problem is common to all the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In the Emirates, as in all the neighbouring countries, the problem is embodied in the paradox of expansion in extensive agriculture despite the depleting groundwater resources. There is also the absence of a water policy, a plan or coherent water resource management. For the last aspect, there is a lack of indigenous expertise with the necessary knowledge to monitor water resources and guide their development. The 8-fold increase in the cultivated acreage from 12,894 ha. in 1973 to 96,704 ha. in 1988, the 10-fold increase in population from 179,100 in 1968 to 1,748,804 in 1988, the continuously stable high cost of food imports during the past decade of above 3.0 billion dirhams ($ US 0.8 billion) a year and the 22-fold increase in water consumption from 172 MCM/a in 1968 to 3659 MCM/a. in 1989, sum up the water resource problem of the Emirates. As a result, water-tables have been receding continuously, groundwater salinity rising both in inland and coastal aquifers, and the shallow fresh water aquifer in the Quaternary deposits has been depleted in many parts of the piedmont (gravel) plains. Given this critical state of the groundwater resources, the preclusive cost of desalinated water to its application to agriculture and the ill-advised outlets to which every possible water resource developed is put, an urgent rethinking of water policies and development is vital. Such rethinking should set water-related priorities right, should resist all temptations, for reasons of national security, to imports of foreign water, and should be within the context of well-intentioned efforts towards achieving food security, through specialized agriculture, as much as is naturally possible. [math mode missing closing $]

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1991
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Dec 2012 12:14

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