On average a Qatar resident uses nearly 600 litres of water a day*, making the country one of the highest consumers of water globally.
Considering the region's limited sources of freshwater that are readily available for human use, the need for water recycling in the Middle East becomes abundantly clear.
It is critical to ensure that the maximum possible quantity of recycled water is used for appropriate purposes. However, the balance of the water naturally comes from virgin sources such as the sea. Desalination of water remains the key to meet regional demand. The question is how environmentally friendly desalination is.
Desalination is an energy intensive process that adds to the burden on environment, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, and thereby to climate change. Moreover the disposal of the highly concentrated brine produced as by product of the process requires environmentally safe treatment and disposal.
Therefore considering that there are limited recycling opportunities and that desalination has environmental impacts, the highest priority should be given to the combination of water efficiency enhancement and water recycling strategies. GSAS (Global Sustainability Assessment System ) the first performance based green building system in the MENA region developed by GORD, was launched in 2009 and is currently applied in GCC countries including Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia & Oman. GSAS promotes a number of practical and simple steps that can be adopted in the built environment to reduce the consumption of water in the region, without compromising the human needs, such as:
· Using water-efficient plumbing fixtures such as dual flush water closets;
· Using water-efficient drip irrigation system;
· Collecting and treating greywater, stormwater, and condensate water to be recycled for toilet flushing and plants irrigation.
For example if we make the calculation that dual flush toilets could save over 3000 litres of water per person annually, and considering the population of Qatar of 2.5 million, this would equate to 75,000,000 kilo litres of water. Additionally this would mean that the water that is ‘saved’ would not enter the drainage system and therefore reducing the requirements for energy and chemicals for pumping and treatment of water for reuse.
GSAS utilizes a performance based approach to verify the efficacy of the strategies outlined previously in reducing water consumption and conserving the most precious natural resource in the region.
The Gulf region is one of the most arid regions in the world. The lack of water is considered as the most important problem. Annual rainfall is slight and erratic, with an annual average of 81 millimeters in Doha. As a result, renewable groundwater resources are extremely limited and high in salinity which poses more issues during treatment. One renewable source of water which is abundant within the Gulf region is in the form of vapour suspended within the atmosphere. The Gulf region and in particular its coastal areas experience very humid weather conditions, which is an outcome of varying volumes of water vapour in the atmosphere. GORD Institute is exploring this source of water using two testing methods. The first is the collection of condensate from existing HVAC systems, and the second is using solar absorption, desorption systems. The desiccant solar still system collects moisture from the atmosphere at night, which is collected and stored for utilisation during the day.
For the sustainability of the region and for its self dependence in terms of water, finding innovative ways to reduce the use of fresh water and to recycle the water commercial and personal applications will play very important role. Another area of research to address this issue effectively is to assess which sector (for example: energy, built environment or industry) has the maximum potential of water recycling or water conservation.