KSA’s water consumption surpasses global average
During the last three decades, the Kingdom has experienced comprehensive development in all sectors coupled with high growth rates in population and living standards. This has resulted in an ever-increasing water consumption in the agricultural, municipal and industrial sectors.
To meet this increasing consumption, there has been a governmental trend to raise the tariff value for the consumption of water and energy. However, specialists believe that such an increase will not meet the demand sufficiently, which actually requires doubling the amount of desalinated water produced in the Kingdom over the next ten years.
In this regard, Abdullah Al-Hussain, the Minister for Water and Electricity, said: “The Kingdom, which is one of the most water-poor countries in the world, pays exorbitant sums of money to secure water for citizens at low prices, making it the most expensive water globally,” adding that the new tariffs will cover only 25 percent of the actual water costs.
According to the Ministry of Water, the average water consumption of water per capita is 300 liters per day, but the actual rate depends on the location of the city or village, said Mansour Al-Kredes, a member of the Water, Agriculture and Environment Committee in the Shoura Council.
Al-Kredes said that this high level of consumption exceeds global proportions significantly, confirming that the agricultural sector consumes about 85 percent of the total water consumption in the Kingdom, which requires the prompt preparation of accurate water data to reduce this share.
He said: “The Ministry of Water and Electricity should issue a national strategy for water, which has been in preparation for more than a decade. This strategy must include comprehensive water data, in terms of the sources, uses, as well as mechanisms and procedures required for full implementation.”
He also added that the present reliance on desalinated water requires revision, as it recorded a 5 to 7 percent growth in the last year, making up 60 percent of the country’s water sources.
Adel Bushnaq, Chairman of the Saudi Water and Power Forum, said that water rationalization is complex and contains several elements, stressing that unless there is a real reduction in the high rate of water consumption in the Kingdom, the problems will become worse in the future and the country will face a real crisis.
A water expert, Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, said that any step taken toward the rationalization of water is a present and future gain for the coming generations, and this applies to the agricultural sector as well as domestic and industrial consumption.
Al-Ghamdi referred to the risks of dependence on desalinated water and the depletion of groundwater, saying that it is imperative that we resort to the use of safe water sources to ensure water sustainability for the future.