The Feasibility of Different Techniques for Providing Fresh Water



“Only 2.5 per cent of the water on earth is fresh water, the remaining 97.5 per cent is brackish or saline water” (Ragheb 2011: 1). The fresh water is present at 0.4 per cent in lakes and rivers, 30.9 per cent as groundwater, and 68.7 per cent as snow and ice. A major requirement for water is in agriculture and food production, using three-quarters of the fresh water from rivers, lakes and aquifers. Further, water is essential in the production of energy by power plants which use billions of gallons of water per year to produce steam to power its turbines. There are over 21,000 desalination plants across the earth, producing 3.5 billion gallons of potable water per day. About one-third of the land surface on earth is either arid with less than 250 mm of annual precipitation, or semi-arid with precipitation between 250 mm and 500 mm. The lack of freshwater resources hampers sustainable development in these regions. On the other hand, “growing population, increasing the standard of living, and expanding opportunities exert increasing demands for varying needs for water” (Singh, Sherif &amp. Al Rashid 2002: ix) for agriculture, industry, waste disposal, power generation, navigation, transportation, recreation and other requirements. As a result of greater oil revenues, unprecedented economic and social transformation have taken place in the countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. On the other hand, these Gulf Cooperative Council countries face major challenges in water resource management. The main reasons include unsustainable use of groundwater resources, lack of urban water demand management, institutional and legal constraints, and the limited role of the private sector. To address these issues, the government has formulated policy recommendations that include adopting integrated water resource management. The climatic conditions in the GCC countries are among the harshest in the world.