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Water wisdom can help avert crisis

The quest for water, especially in arid regions worldwide, is rapidly
becoming an overriding concern, as governments and research centres seek options on how best to address the issue. The scenario looks so gloomy with reports that as many as 3.5 billion people are expected to experience water scarcity in the next decade. Given this huge number, the
problem is serious as shortage in water could trigger conflicts among states that share same source of water.
Any attempt to achieve water security will require international scientific collaboration that carefully examines all available methods and explores new approaches.
As reports emerge that Abu Dhabi emirate will have depleted its groundwater reserves within 50 years, the UAE has launched a series of initiatives to address the issue. It is also indulged in ‘cloud seeding’, to stimulate or increase rainfall by dispersing water-attracting particles into clouds to help more ice or water droplets to form in the clouds that will turn into raindrops. No doubt, this rain enhancement technique has the potential to become a very affordable and
efficient method to achieve water resilience.
Studies show that cloud seeding can increase the amount of rainfall between the ranges of five and 35 per cent — depending on the quality of the clouds. To illustrate the potential of rain enhancement, in 2010, four days of heavy rain were enhanced by cloud seeding. This brought downpours equivalent to the nine-year output of a single desalination plant in Abu Dhabi.
To expedite the programme, the UAE Research Programme for Rain
Enhancement Science launched in early 2015 an annual grant of $5 million (AED18.39 million) to be shared by winning teams over a period of three years, to advance rain enhancement science and technology for the benefit of arid and semi-arid regions worldwide.
Apart from such programmes, the UAE can learn from experiences of countries that solved the water shortage problems, among others, Singapore which had faced many of the same challenges as Abu Dhabi due to lack of groundwater reserves and dependence on desalination. It is now making maximum use of recycled water. The UAE can review the use of about 70 percent of water on agriculture, since most of food commodities get imported from abroad. This could be a recipe to preserve the groundwater.
According to World Resources Institute (WRI) researchers, 13 Middle Eastern countries including the Palestinian Territories are projected to face extremely high water stress in 25 years’ time. Even more alarmingly, eight of these nations fall in the global top 10: Bahrain, Kuwait, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Israel.
Though not a surprise, the WRI report is a stark warning for these countries and others to maximize efforts to manage dwindling water resources. It is high time not to depend only on the energy-intensive process of desalination. The mindset and attitude when it comes to the use of recycled wastewater should also change.
Consumers should be educated to use water wisely and check its wanton wastage.
With high-tech, advanced researches and collaboration, as well wisdom and prudence, solution to the perennial water stress can be handled for posterity!

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