Water Supply and Sanitation in Saudi Arabia - Water Use

Water Use

Total municipal water use in Saudi Arabia has been estimated at 2.1 cubic kilometers per year in 2004, or 9% of total water use. Agriculture accounts for 88% of water use and industry for only 3%. Demand has been growing at the rate of 4.3% per annum (average for the period 1999-2004), in tandem with urban population growth (around 3%). Water supply is usually not metered, neither at the source nor the distribution point. It is tentatively estimated that average water consumption for those connected to the network is about 235 liters per capita per day, a level lower than in the United States.

Water reuse in Saudi Arabia is growing, both at the level of buildings and at the level of cities. For example, ablution water in mosques is being reused for the flushing of toilets. At the city level, treated wastewater is being reused for landscaping, irrigation and in industries such as refining. In Riyadh 50 million cubic meter per year is pumped over 40 km (25 mi) and 60m elevation to irrigate 15,000 hectares of wheat, fodder, orchards and palm trees.

Water conservation measures, such as awareness campaigns through the media and educational pamphlets, have been carried out. In addition, in Riyadh a leakage control program has been carried out and a special, higher water tariff has been introduced. Furthermore free water appliances (taps, shower heads, toilet boxes) were distributed, reportedly resulting in a decrease of residential water use of between 25-35%.

An unknown, but large proportion of the population is dependent on supply through water tankers. For example, Riyadh experiences water shortages and intermittent supply, especially during the summer peak demand. To cope with the shortage, 18 million cubic meters of water was distributed during one summer by private contractors. With the commissioning of a new large well field at Al Honai this problem has been reduced.

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