Kuwait Financial Centre “Markaz” recently published the executive summary of its report on Qatar Water. In this report, Markaz examines the status of Qatar Water sector and highlights the growth drivers, opportunities and key challenges for the sector. The report also presents an overview of the water industry and details of Qatar government’s plans to improve the current state of its water industry.
According to FAO, Qatar is not only one of the water stressed countries in the world; it also features on the highest consumers of water. Higher consumption is made possible through sea water desalination. Water for consumption predominantly comes from desalination plants. Currently there are 6 plants that are operating in the region and produce close to 280 gallons of water per day. More desalination and wastewater treatment plants are under construction and are expected to put into operation over the next few years.
Qatar’s water sector falls under the purview of Ministry of Energy and Industry and the various functions of water management are divided among three divisions of the government – Ashghal is responsible for sewerage and drainage, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning is responsible for research on agriculture & water and finally Kahramaa (Qatar Electricity and Water Corporation) is responsible for water networks.
Water is supplied to households through pipes in cities. In rural areas, water is supplied through tankers. Kahramaa has ensured that tankers do not add to congestion in Doha and almost all of the water is supplied through pipelines. Water connectivity has improved markedly from 2004 to 2010; areas which had no pipeline connectivity in 2004 had achieved connectivity levels exceeding 80%.
Qatar’s government has come out with a National Development Strategy (2011-16) which charts the various government plans and shortcomings in the water sector. NDS has also highlighted how it plans to counter the inefficiencies in the sector. Qatar’s government plans to introduce a comprehensive water management program to its country through National Water Act of 2016. The NWA 2016 is expected to centralize and integrate water management, thereby bringing in the various operations under a single framework which will be easy to manage. As part of the NDS, Qatar’s government has plans to bring in user charges for water and electricity for Qatari citizens.
Qatar government has been initiating some serious initiatives on water conservation, production and storage. Introducing water meters for agriculture, cutting down on network losses which is sometimes as high as 35% to below 10%, installation of water saving technologies for households, construction of mega reservoir project, improving water connectivity to homes etc. are some of the initiatives. Qatar’s government launched a water and energy saving campaign in association with Unilever in July 2013 called “Tarsheed”. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Unilever and Tarsheed. The primary target of this MoU is to bring down the water consumption per capita by 35% over the next five years.
With the 2022 FIFA World cup in the horizon and the government’s attempt to diversify the economy and increase GDP contribution of non-hydrocarbon sectors, growth in construction, transport and tourism are expected, which in turn will put more burden on the existing water systems. Existing water structures needs to be streamlined and future proofed to guard against any unforeseen emergencies.
Current methods of water desalination require huge amounts of energy which is currently taken care by the country’s rich hydrocarbon reserves which are finite. Usage of resources towards water production results in revenue losses. To stem this, Qatar is looking at using solar power to fuel its desalination. It is also looking at more environmentally friendly desalination methods like Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) for water production.