How can DATA mitigate a WATER CRISIS?

15 November 2018

Lab Chat

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has suffered extensively in the past due to droughts and a lack of clean and usable water. The dry heat generally experienced in the nation can lead to a mass of problems for residents, wildlife and the environment. A recent study has sparked concerns that droughts can in fact increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, impacting the environment further.

So, with the nation continuing to suffer year after year with a lack of water, what can be done? A recent data collection scheme pioneered by environmental campaigners could help the UAE avoid a water crisis in the future.

How can the project help?

With the UAE minister recently branding the country’s water consumption as a ‘huge concern’, efforts to resolve the issue have been increased. The UAE is among the 10 most arid states in the world and is home to around 15% of earth’s desalinated water.

The new research scheme hopes to shed light on the issue, in order to make change and progress towards a brighter future. It has assessed water levels at thousands of wells across the UAE to provide the data needed to protect the vital resource. With around 51% of the UAE’s water supply coming from groundwater, wells are a great source of data to find out where the struggles are originating.

The world’s population is ever-growing, and the supply of water isn’t growing with it. By 2050, the global population is expected to reach a whopping 9 billion. With that comes an increase in the demand for natural resources, including fresh water. So, if the UAE can figure out how much water is being used, and estimate how much is left in the wells, they can put a plan in place to keep the nation’s supply flowing.

How will the data be used?

Ahmed Baharoon, executive director of environmental science at Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, believes that they can use the collected data to predict the future demands of water in the UAE and help to safeguard water supplies.

The project has been up and running since 2015 and has collected data from 118,000 wells and 1,150 small scale desalination plants and continues to research further. The information gathered, according to Mr Baharoon, has changed the consumption of the nation and allows those in charge to control how much water is to be used in each area.

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