Environmental Management Report

Environmental Management Report




Environmental Management Report


Reclaimed waster water use is critical towards enabling enhanced water availability, minimization of environmental pollution, enabling water resources management, and enabling sustainable nutrient recycling. On the other hand, wastewater is laden with chemical and microbiological pollutants that pose risks to the environment and more so human health. It is imperative that such risks are handled and mitigate in an efficacious manner with the sole aim of ensuring that the human health and wellbeing is safeguarded (Mclain & Williams, 2012). Over the past few years, the United Arab Emirates has experienced a significant increase in water stress arising from rapid industrial and population growth.

Water stress in the United Arab Emirates has been associated with deterioration in the quality of water and scarcity of this important commodity because of increase in agricultural and industrial activities. Furthermore, this has also resulted in the depletion of existing water sources such as aquifers giving rise to intrusion by saline water (Mahmoud, & Abdaalh, 2014). The associated quantity of fresh that is available in the United Arab Emirates is relatively low is estimated to be at 34m3/inhabitant/annually whereas the consumption is relativity high and on an incremental level. The United Arab Emirates is considered to have the third highest consumption of freshwater around the world.

The United States has an estimated population of more than 6million inhabitants and is a leading economic powerhouse in the Middle East and in the global economy. In the year 2009, the United Arab Emirates had an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD$245.5 billion that comprises of sectors namely services (50.2%), agriculture (1.1%), and industrial (48.6%). The Abu Dhabi emirate is considered as the largest amongst the seven emirates. Availability of freshwater in the United Arab Emirates is estimated to be at <200 m3 per capita annually whereas water consumption is at an estimated >550 L per capita a day, which has been termed as the third highest consumption of water in the world (Qadir, Bahri, & Al-Karadsheh, 2010).

An estimated 70% of consumed water is sourced from various from non-conventional water resources such as desalination and treated wastewater facilities. The estimated amount of wastewater treated in the United Arab Emirates was at 560 Mm3/year in the year 2009, with 487 Mm3/year being reused and distributed to green public spaces such as parks and other important landscapes in the cities.

The availability of freshwater to meet the domestic, industrial, and agricultural needs of the country has become an incremental challenge facing the United Arab Emirates. Recycled water that is generated after treatment of wastewater is a critical resource and substitute for declining freshwater sources. This enables savings on production of potable water leading to contributions in the reduction of carbon related pollution that is accruable from desalination processes. The United Arab Emirates is currently undergoing tertiary treatment for reduction of the bacteria levels and chemical contaminants that are present in secondary treated effluent (Gerba & Rose, 2003).

The utilization of recycled water in the United Arab Emirates has been limited only to activities such as irrigation of parks, landscapes, and streets in the major streets. Recycled water in the United Arab Emirates is to utilized for agricultural purposes primarily due to environmental and health hazards. Additionally, the social and public attitudes towards the use of recycled wastewater impede is application in agricultural and domestic settings. A majority of the recycled water in the UAE is usually discharged into the sea. The discharge of unutilized recycled water into the environment and more so into natural water bodies has been criticized due to the presumed serious environmental and health problems such as algal blooms and eutriphication that are associated with effluents (Al-Zubari, 1998).

The overall effect of the quality of recycled water on the health of the population as well as environment impedes the sustainable application and utilization of recycled water in the United Arab Emirates. Some of the primary issues associated with relatively low quality of recycled water include microbial pathogens and hazardous chemicals dissolved in wastewater. The associated uncertainty on the related health risks to the population due to wastewater use in irrigation schemes is due to the possibility of presence of enteric pathogenic organisms. Pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and parasites thrive in raw sewage as well as in recycled water as some may survive the treatment processes.

Adequate and efficacious operation of waster water recycling facilities, undertaking scientific upgrades of policies and other compliance guidelines as well as enabling extensive public awareness would ensure success and sustainable large-scale wastewater recycling activities in the United Arab Emirates. Studies indicate that proper wastewater treatment plays a critical role in ensuring adequate reduction of pathogens and other microbial elements that may be present in effluents. However, other studies affirm that pathogens and various microbial organisms may survive the treatment process, as they are inherently resistant to antibiotics.

Literature Review

Al Amimi, Khan & Dghaim (2014) in the article Bacteriological Quality of Reclaimed Wastewater Used for Irrigation of Public Parks in the United Arab Emirates note of the critical nature of ensuring extensive purification of wastewater to reduce incidences of consumption of contaminated water. In the study, the authors were able to illustrate the presence of bacteria in reclaimed wastewater in samples that were collected in irrigation projects for public spaces in the United Arab Emirates, specifically Dubai and Sharjah. The study in this article provides that the bacteriological quality of recycled wastewater utilized in irrigation projects have high levels of microbial organisms such as Salmonella, E. coli and other coliform group pathogens.

The results from that study illustrated the high occurrence of a number of colifrom group bacteria in more than 60% of all recycled wastewater samples collected. This exceeds the local and globally accepted standards of 1000cfu/100ml in unrestricted irrigation schemes in the United Arab Emirates. Other studies also recommend the need to make determination of survival rates of coliform group bacteria such as salmonella in soil and plants that are irrigated with the recycled wastewater (Mclain & Williams, 2012).. The article affirms the need for extensive research on understanding the identity of bacteria such as coliform group pathogens in irrigation schemes

Toze (2006) in the article Water reuse and health risks — real vs. perceived, embarks on a discussion on the critical nature of enabling enhanced water efficiency to correspond with the growing demand for water and more so emergent initiatives in recycling wastewater in urban areas. The acceptance of wastewater recycling has gained prominence amongst regulators and authorities, despite rigid concerns in the public domain over the health and environmental risks posed by recycled waster water. In addition, the author notes that recycled wastewater can only be limited for non-potable purposes given the associated risks of contracting disease and presence of hazardous chemicals in recycled wastewater. On the other hand, the use of recycled of wastewater in agricultural schemes may given rise to pollution of the environment and poses a risks to the health of the public who consume products grown using recycled wastewater.

Mahmoud, & Abdaalh (2014) in the article Water Demand Management in Some Arab Countries Using GIS, undertake a discussion of growing scarcity of freshwater around the world, which has prompted the need to utilize technology to recycle wastewater for various uses. In addition, the article notes of the critical nature of this commodity especially in the arid areas such as Arab countries, necessitating the need for appropriate technologies to recycle wastewater (World Bank, 2011). Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates have been prompted to undertake changes in their water resource management techniques and availability solutions to meet growing demand and needs as well as mitigating emergent challenges and risks to the human population and environment.

The article also highlights that water sustainability will primarily focus on establishing a balance between availability and demand. In addition, water demand management in the near future will primarily focus on reducing the use of critical water resources by enhancing efficiency levels of utilization of this critical resource. The article is illustrative of the importance of utilization of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Jordan, KSA, and Morocco.

The Regulation and Supervision Bureau of the United Arab Emirates in a publication titled Guide to Recycled Water and Biosolids Regulations (2010) provides a legal framework for compliance in the management of recycled water and related biosolids. The report highlights the various measures, through government directives, to ensure that the health of the public and environmental concerns is addressed in relation to recycling of waster water in the UAE. The report highlights the need to optimize the economic and social benefits accruable from utilization of sustainable strategies and frameworks to mitigate risks posed by recycled wastewater to the public and the environment.

World Bank (2011) in a report titled Water reuse in the Arab world: from principle to practice, notes of the role of Arab states in development of innovations aimed at addressing the perennial water availability and scarcity concerns experienced in the Arab world. The report notes that water resource management primarily focused on conventional objects such as protection of the environment and public health. However, due to emergent challenges such as climate change, overwhelming water scarcity and shifts in local perceptions concerning the critical nature of utilization of reclaimed water have all necessitated the need to develop new water resource management frameworks.


Essentially wastewater recycling in a majority of Arab nations has immense potential that could enhance the available water resources to these states. Arab states are estimated to produce an average of 10.8 km3/ annually of wastewater with 55% and 15% subsequently reported to be treated and reclaimed for purposes such as landscape irrigation, agriculture, industrial processes, and protection of the environment. In some countries, the use of water in groundwater recharge has been utilized in protection of freshwater. In the year 2011, the Center for Biosaline Agriculture and Islamic Development Bank and the Arab Water Council convened a program titled Expert Consultation Meeting on Wastewater Management in the Arab World whose primary aim was to undertake quantification of the lessons and status of wastewater reuse in Arab states.

From the evaluated literature and reports, it is apparent that wastewater management practices demand the need for constant evaluation to understand any changes and meet emerging needs and challenges. Arab states that cover an estimated 10% of the global land surface receive less than 2% of the total precipitation and less than 0.3% of the renewable water resources available around the world. The World Bank report provided notes that by the 2015, Arab countries were estimated to have reached sever levels of water scarcity, which is defined as amounting to less than 500 m3 per capita annually.

Due to sever climate change, rapid population growth and emergence of new technologies Arab states such as the united Arab emirates have found it a necessity to appraise their water resource management frameworks and regulations to mitigate various risks and social expectations. Demographic and economic growth and social development in Arab states is understood to have exacerbated the demand for water and necessity for new wastewater management strategies. The rapid urbanization experienced in the united Arab emirates necessitates the need to explore options that would enable mitigation of risks posed by scarcity of water.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Sustainable water demand management requires the presence of balance between supply or availability and demand from the public. Water demand cam be effectively managed by the policymakers and suppliers by constant evaluation of supply as compared to incidences of wastage and loss. Continuous appraisal of existing water resource management frameworks would provide the United Arab Emirates with adequate capacity to meet emergent needs and challenges such as growing demand for potable water. In addition, the use of wastewater for activities that primarily utilized potable water is effective in enabling high levels of efficiency in the utilization of water resources in these desert regions.

An estimated 83million individuals living in the Arab states lack access to safe potable water whereas an additional 96 million are in need of access to basic sanitation services. A majority of these individuals can be termed as low-income earners and victims of war and poverty. The world bank notes that an estimated USD $100 and USD$65 billion is needed to reduce by half the number of individuals faced by challenges of access to clean and safe potable water for domestic purposes as well as appropriate sanitation.

Essentially, efficient and effective operation of waster water recycling facilities in the united Arab emirates would ensure that existing potable and recycled wastewater resources are managed in an appropriate manner. In addition, undertaking scientific upgrades of existing technologies and substituting the same with new and advanced technologies would also provide a means of enhancing the quality of recycled wastewater (Al Amimi, Khan & Dghaim, 2014). Furthermore,  and other compliance guidelines as well as enabling extensive public awareness would ensure success and sustainable large-scale wastewater recycling activities in the United Arab Emirates. Studies indicate that proper wastewater treatment plays a critical role in ensuring adequate reduction of pathogens and other microbial elements that may be present in effluents. However, other studies affirm that pathogens and various microbial organisms may survive the treatment process, as they are inherently resistant to antibiotics.

Coping with water stress in the United Arab Emirates should take into consideration the emergence of new technologies and exploration of other potable water resources. In addition improving public and social perceptions of recycled wastewater would rely on the use of extensive public education and sensitization programs aimed at providing the communities with knowledge and skills for utilizing water resources in an efficient manner (World Bank, 2007). Furthermore, continuous appraisal of regulatory and compliance frameworks would ensure high levels of efficiency in utilization of freshwater and reused wastewater resources across the United Arab Emirates. Additional research should be undertake to develop strategies and means of coping with environmental and health challenges that are associated with recycled wastewater usage in the United Arab Emirates.























Al Amimi, A. S. H., Khan, M. A., & Dghaim. R. (2014). Bacteriological Quality of Reclaimed Wastewater Used for Irrigation of Public Parks in the United Arab Emirates. International Journal of Environmental Science and Development, 5(3): 309-312.

Al-Zubari, W. (1998). Towards the establishment of a total water cycle management and re-use program in the GCC countries. Desalination, 120: 3-14.

Al Ajmi, A. Salih, A. Kadim, A. A., & Othman, I. Y. (2009). Chemical constituents and heavy metals contents of barley fodder produced under hydroponic system in GCC countries using tertiary treated sewage effluents. Journal of Phytology, 1(6):374-380.

Gerba, C. P. & Rose, J. B. (2003). International guidelines for water recycling: microbiological considerations,” Water Science and Technology: Water Supply, 3(4): 311–316.

Mahmoud, M. S. A., & Abdaalh, S. M. A. (2014). Water Demand Management in Some Arab Countries Using GIS. Control Theory and Informatics, 4(3): 1-16.

Mclain, J. E. T., & Williams, C. F. (2012). Assessing environmental impacts of treated wastewater through monitoring of fecal indicator bacteria and salinity in irrigated soils. Environ Monit Assess, 184:pp. 1559–1572.

Qadir, M., Bahri, A. & Al-Karadsheh, T. S. E.. (2010).Wastewater production, treatment, and irrigation in Middle East and North Africa. Irrig. Drainage Syst., 24: 37–51,

Toze, S. (2006).Water reuse and health risks — real vs. perceived. Desalination 187: 41–51

World Bank. (2011). Water reuse in the Arab world: from principle to practice. Washington D.C: World Bank.

World Bank. (2007). Making the most of scarcity: accountability for better water management results in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington D.C: World Bank.

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