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Non-Renewable

Groundwater
Management in
Saudi Arabia

Dr. Ali Saad Al-Tokhais


Water consumption for Saudi Arabia

Sector 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

Domestic 1,748 1,848 1,977 2,006 2,123 2,283


Industrial 654 668 683 698 714 753
Agricultu 18,586 17,003 15,420 15,083 14,747 14,410
ral

Total 20,98 19,519 18,080 17,787 17,584 17,446


8

Unit is
MCM/year
Background: How much groundwater is
First assessment of water resources:
available?
1963-1983: Exploration and identification of groundwater
resources
1979: British Arabian Advisory Company (BAAC)
1980: Groundwater Development Consultants (GDC)
1983: German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ)
1985: Bureau de Recherches Gologiques et Minirs (BRGM)

Groundwater reserve: Estimation of groundwater in storage is


428,400 MCM

Groundwater abstraction: Total groundwater abstraction of 462,300


MCM (1975 2005)

Results:
1.Drying up of natural springs
2.Declining groundwater levels of all aquifers
3.Deterioration of water quality

What is next: The Ministry of Water & Electricity (MoWE) is working on


the reassessment of the water resources since 2003
Geology Arabian Peninsula
Geological
Map
Geology Arabian Peninsula
Arabian
Shield

Igneous &
metamorphic
rocks

Volcanic
rocks
(Harrats)
Geology Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Platform
Sedimenta
ry
succession
Geology Arabian Peninsula
Precipitation Arabian Peninsula
Annual mm/
rainfall a
Major water provinces in Saudi Arabia
Red Sea
CoastThe water
resources of this
area are made
up by
desalinated
seawater,
renewable water
resources, and
treated waste
water
Major water provinces in Saudi
Arabia Northern
Arabian
Shield
Desalinated
seawater, renewable
water resources, and
treated waste water
are the only water
resource in this area.
However, the amount
of renewable
resources is low
compared to the
Southern Shield,
because the rainfall
is lower.
Major water provinces in Saudi
Arabia Southern
Arabian
Shield amounts
Significant
of rainfall (up to
400mm/a) enable a
water supply that is
based solely on
renewable water
resources. This is the
only area in Saudi
Arabia, where a
sustainable use of
the water is possible.
Desalinated seawater
and treated waste
water are among the
water resources
Major water provinces in Saudi
Arabia Arabian
Platform
In this area, only
non-renewable
ground-water
resources exist.
Some remote supply
from desalinated
seawater from the
East Coast takes
place.
Major water provinces in Saudi
Arabia East Coast
Desalinated seawater
and, to much lesser
extent, non-
renewable
groundwater
resources as well as
treated waste water
make up the water
resources of this
area.
Extent of principal aquifers on the Arabian
Platform
Umm Er Radhuma & overlying aquifers

Wasia-Biyadh-Aruma

Khuff-Jilh-Minjur

Wajid & Saq


Major aquifer types on the
Arabian Platform
Bedrock
aquifers

Sandstone aquifers Karst


aquifers
Fractures with permeable matrix Conduit system with a karstified rock
matrix

Examples: Examples:
Objectives of reassessment
Assessment of the water
of groundwater budget
resources studies
What are the in- and outflows to the
aquifer system?

Assessment of groundwater resources

How much groundwater is (still)


available?

Managing of groundwater resources

How can we make best use of the


groundwater resource?
Is sustainable non-renewable
groundwater management possible in arid
countries?
Flow chart: aquifers studies

Collection and
interpretation of
data

Development of
aquifer model

Application of
aquifer model as
a management
Groundwater model

Elevation model Geology 3D-geology

Hydrogeological Groundwater model


model
Groundwater model

Elevation model Geology

3D
Stereosc
opic
visualiza
tion
Groundwater budget: predevelopment
state (before 1965)

Inflow: Outflow:
spring discharge
groundwater recharge inland and coastal sabkhas
inflow through wadi Arabian Gulf
channels
Groundwater budget: present state

Inflow: Outflow:
agricultural water use
groundwater recharge industrial water use
inflow through wadi domestic water use
channels
Total water budget for Saudi Arabia
Consequences of high groundwater
abstractions

1. Declining groundwater levels / large groundwater


2. Increase in production costs due to high pumping
3. Destruction of the environment and increasing de
4. Deterioration of groundwater quality / salt water i
5. Conflict between water users:
agriculture, industry, domestic water use
present generation / future generation
6. Possible land subsidence
Umm Er Radhuma aquifer: Al
Hassa
Drying up of springs
Declining groundwater
levels
Large scale groundwater
drawdown
Deterioration of
groundwater quality
Drawdown in Saq and Wasia Biyadh
aquifer
Saq: Hail- Wasia-
Buraydah- Biyadh: Al
Tabuk region Kharj
region
Location of main consumers
Conflict in supply
between:
- Urban centers
- Agriculture
Indicators for change in water
strategy
2003: Establishment of the Ministry of Water &
Electricity (MoWE). Separation of the agricultural
sector from the water sector.

2003: Launch of reassessment of the water


resources. Studies will be finished by 2014.

2008: Establishment of National Water Company


(NWC).

2008: Phasing out wheat production until 2016


(Royal Decree 335).

2010: Intensive development of groundwater


resources for municipal water supply.

2010: Preparation of comprehensive water law.


Development of irrigated area 1985 -
2010
Irrigation efficiency

Crop
consumptive
use and
groundwater
abstraction in
Saudi Arabia

Irrigation efficiency must be increased. Comparing crop


consumptive use to groundwater abstraction shows that irrigation
efficiency is below 50%. Further efforts are required by the
Ministry of Agriculture in order to increase irrigation efficiency to
reach minimally 70%.
Question and challenges
Question:

Should non-renewable groundwater be pumped for


maximum benefit of the present generation without a
concern about over drafting the aquifers?
or
Should the present groundwater withdrawal be limited
to preserve the resource for the future generations?

Challenges in managing non-renewable


groundwater

1.Rapid aquifer depletion


2.Rapid increase in urban water demand
3.High agricultural water demand
Solutions
1. Improve IWRM to achieve groundwater
sustainability

2. Decrease non-renewable groundwater


abstraction

3. Increase irrigation efficiency

4. Implementation of virtual water program for


agricultural production

5. Make groundwater protection everybody's


responsibility
Thank you very
much for your
kind attention