The value of investment in new desalination plants in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Umm Al Quwain amounted to Dh7.6 billion ($2.08bn), Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE’s Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, has said.
The annual growth rate of the water desalination industry is 3 per cent and the UAE has rolled out various national strategic projects in the sector, Mr Al Mazrouei told the state-owned news agency Wam on Tuesday.
These projects will help the country achieve water security by providing supply and ensuring national sustainability, he said.
The UAE relies on desalination — the process of converting seawater — for drinking water and regularly uses cloud seeding to encourage rainfall as it only receives about 100 millimetres a year.
In the past, many reports have highlighted the pressure on the UAE's water reserves.
In 2019, the UAE was named as one of more than a dozen countries facing extreme pressure on its resources with groundwater reserves depleted though overuse.
Authorities in 2017 launched the Water Security Strategy 2036 to address the issue.
It set out how the UAE would reduce total demand on water resources by 21 per cent; increase the reuse of treated water to 95 per cent; reduce average consumption by each person by half; and develop a storage capacity for more than 45 days in extreme emergencies.
Mr Al Mazrouei said the UAE has prioritised the sixth sustainable development goal to enhance water sustainability and offer access to water in natural conditions and emergencies.
He said the ministry plans to upgrade the water supply sector and complete new desalination plants using reverse osmosis technology.
The rate of use of treated wastewater must be 95 per cent, according to indicators of the approved water security strategy, while demand management and rationalisation programmes will also contribute to reducing total water consumption rates by 21 per cent until 2036, Mr Al Mazrouei said.
Reverse osmosis is a low-energy method of purifying water using membrane technology. Renewable energy systems are also being used in these plants, creating greater efficiency.