Water Management

The UAE is among the highest water consumers in the world. Indoor use stands at over 500 litres per capita with an additional 600 litres used for landscaping alone. As fresh water sources are scarce, all non-agriculture uses are served through desalination of sea water, making the UAE the second largest desalination producer. The dominant method (>90%) is thermal desalination, however reverse osmosis is gaining ground. The UAE produced 1.7bm3 in 2011 according to the Abu Dhabi Environment Authority.

The UAE has a need to develop scalable and economical energy and water resources that are sustainable as water demand has been forecasted to exceed 6 MGD by 2030. Non thermal desalination will need to be installed to match the rate of substitution of thermal electricity generation by renewables.

As far as gray-water recycling systems there is still relatively limited re-use of treated wastewater however they are becoming increasingly accepted. In the city of Abu Dhabi water demand is met by less than 10% from treated wastewater according to 2012 figures by the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi.

Water derived by treatment of municipal wastewater can be used for irrigation and district cooling centres, which costs much less compared to desalination and has the added benefit of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, both topics of concern for the UAE.