The Middle East region is plagued by water scarcity and water mismanagement. Despite heavy investment in the water sector, water management remains a serious economic and environmental issue throughout the region. Overconsumption of water is a serious issue as per capita use of water in most of the Middle Eastern countries is several times more water than the global average. For example, on an average each UAE and Saudi Arabian resident consume 550 liters and 250 liters of water per day respectively. On the other hand, per capita water consumption in United Kingdom and Germany is 150 liters and 127 liters per day respectively. These statistics are a grim reminder that excessive consumption of water must be curbed urgently in order to secure water supplies for the coming generations.
Water scarcity is a reality in almost all Middle East countries, be it arid Kuwait or green Jordan. However, most of the people are either unaware or have ignored this stark fact. High population growth coupled with rapid industrialization calls for a sustainable water use pattern in domestic, industrial and agricultural sectors. Domestic sector is responsible for one of the largest water consumption in the Middle East. For example, in United Arab Emirates private households account for about one-fourth of total water consumption. Households use water for drinking, washing, air conditioning, gardening, landscaping etc. Due to rising water demand and dwindling freshwater supplies, domestic water conservation is an urgent need of the hour. Water conservation can help not only help in saving water but will also conserve energy required for desalination, treatment and transport of water.
Domestic water conservation can be used in all types of residential, institutional, and commercial buildings in the Middle East. Installation of technologies and products like faucet aerators, low-flow or sensored faucets, low-flow showerheads, low-flush and composting toilets, water-saving dishwashers and clothes washers can play a significant role in saving water at the domestic level. Moreover, detecting and fixing leaks in water system, and ensuring operation of valves at the optimum pressure, can save good deal of water. Fixing leaks in pipes, fittings, tanks, and fixtures enhances the effectiveness of water-saving products. Pressure-reducing valves can be used to lessen the force and amount of water flows.
To promote conservation, water supply should be metered and monetized. Monitoring and metering can increase efficiency of water distribution network and can provide accurate data of consumption level of a particular consumer. Removal of subsidies and appropriate pricing of water can be a powerful tool to enforce water conservation at household level. Pricing of water will not only help in improvement of water infrastructure but may also a strong message to the public that water has certain monetary value and should be conserved.
Providing subsidies on water-saving devices, like toilet retrofits, can be an attractive inducement. Encouragement of xeriscaping or natural landscaping can significantly reduce outdoor water use in arid climate, like that of the Middle East. Water conservation is often confused with reduction of water consumption. However, it also includes use of improved technologies and practices that deliver equal or better service with less water.
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