Weather disturbances come and go. We take some lessons from them, many others we forget. In the recent past, Oman witnessed many weather disturbances. Each had the potential to damage the infrastructure and loss of property and life.
The same happened with the tropical storm Shaheen that hit Oman on Sunday and directly impacted North Al Batinah, Al Dhahirah, Al Buraimi and Al Dakhiliyah. Even though it downgraded to a tropical storm after it hit land in Oman, it did the damage even in places far from actual landfall.
Groundwater Expert Dr Akram Ali analysed the storm from the angle of correction that is humanly impossible to implement. He spoke about its benefits on the natural water system or the aquifer.
In an interview with Observer, Dr Akram Ali said, “Take the example of Al Batinah. For the last 15-20 years, there has been over groundwater abstraction for domestic as well as agriculture purposes. This has led to the intrusion of saline water into the aquifer. It has polluted the water system in the area,” he said.
The rain caused by the storm will help improve the qualitative and quantitative condition of water in the area.
“By quality, we mean improvement in water salinity, and by quantity, we mean improvement in groundwater level. Even though it is humanly impossible to collect all the water caused by the storm for future use, the land absorbs water and stores it underground,” Dr Akram Ali said.
Commenting on the possibility of collecting rainwater caused by such weather disturbances, he said it was not humanly possible to collect all water, but the check dams were viable solutions for water consumption.
“Check dams are there, but they need regular maintenance. Lots of sand and mud get deposited at the bottom of the check dams. If left unattended without any maintenance, the capacity of the dams get affected. With less water, evaporation happens very fast... Desiltation of check dams is required to avoid runoff, evaporation loss and subsequent recharge.”
He called for more check dams to improve water conservation in an arid zone country like Oman.
“Keeping in mind the good flow of water, check dams across the wadis (canals) can be the best way to impound the surface runoff and increase the groundwater recharge. The construction of check dams will help harvest surface water runoff by increasing the contact time between the water body and wadi beds to facilitate infiltration to the aquifers. This improves the groundwater recharge and reduces the runoff into the sea. By this, groundwater quality is also expected to improve chemically as it would reduce the salinity. Some biological safeguard, however, is required for the stored water,” he said.
Picture by Faisal al Balushi