Bahrain urged to cut down water usage
Manama, February 4, 2009
Bahrain must reduce water consumption by implementing fiercer penalties, holding awareness campaigns and creating a comprehensive national strategy, say the experts.
Water consumption in Bahrain is about three times higher per capita than European countries, they stated.
'Bahrain consumption of water per capita is higher than much of the rest of the world, it is about 300 cubic metres per year and in the UK it's about 100,' University of Bahrain chemical engineering department lecturer Najat Es'haqi told the GDN.
'With this kind of consumption and population growth there is more pressure on our water supply.
'The problem is getting more critical - we must have a strategy that interconnects authorities with the community and particularly the youth because they are our future water consumers.'
She said Bahrain had excellent policies and regulations that were superior to countries in the region, but implementation was low.
Furthermore, the community was generally not aware of water scarcity in Bahrain, although studies by Bapco as early as the 1950s had discussed the problem.
'We don't have laws, only orders, so there are only penalties not prison sentences handed out,' said Ms Es'haqi, who is conducting research into water management in Bahrain, in co-operation with Liverpool University, UK.
'People still don't realise we are facing water scarcity. We are in very critical situation in Bahrain.
'We need a strong coherent programme that integrates all stakeholders - the authorities and society, and it must be continuous.
'Consumption needs to be reduced and we need an awareness campaign for the public, youth, housewives and housemaids - everyone needs to know their responsibilities.
'We also need technologies to rehabilitate our underground water.'
Ms Es'haqi was speaking on the sidelines of the International Forum on Cleaner Technologies for Economic Development which concludes at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre today.
Environmentalist and economist Dr Ali Hesabi said water consumption in Bahrain was too high, especially in the agriculture sector.
He said the agriculture sector only contributed about one per cent to Bahrain's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but it consumed 60pc of the country's water resources.
'We have two problems, the first is that water is heavily subsidised. So people use water as if it is a zero cost resource - no-one cares about water,' he said on the sidelines of the forum.
'Secondly, the environmental impact of heavy water consumption is not included in the price of water.'
In light of this, Dr Hesabi said the solution to the water problem would be to remove subsidies and include the environmental costs of high consumption.
'The government needs to create some management schemes such as providing people with incentives to encourage them to use conservation devices at home,' he said.
'It could provide soft loans for households to instal conservation appliances.'
Ernst and Young auditor Khalid Alnaser called upon the government to introduce water auditing to encourage compliance.
'Right now industries are not required to have a water audit, but the audit will make them more comp'liant because it will be a public matter,' he told the GDN on the sidelines of the forum. 'We can be pioneers in this field in the GCC.'-TradeArabia News Service