As the demand for freshwater rapidly rises around the globe, and especially across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, the spotlight is increasingly moving to sustainable management of one of the planet’s most valuable resources – essential for human health, food production, social and economic development and securing a stable future for humanity.
Myriad factors have contributed to the current situation – including dramatic growth in population, major expansion of agricultural and industrial projects, and skyrocketing real estate development.
Increasing urbanisation and pollution have also constrained the availability of freshwater, particularly in more arid regions such as the Middle East.
As a result, MEED Insights recently estimated that the GCC’s water demand is set to rise 62 per cent by 2025, and that Gulf countries have a US$80 billion pipeline of investments in water and wastewater projects.
Gulf governments have seized this imperative for investing in sustainable wastewater management to align their economies with achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) to ensure access to water and sanitation for all.
One of the most effective examples of this is in the Sultanate of Oman, where the government has adopted the National Strategy for the Use of Tertiary-treated Wastewater 2040, committing to invest US $7 billion to advance the reuse of wastewater over the next 20 years.
This is particularly critical in a country where 86 per cent of total drinking water needs come from desalinated water despite a challenging topography, while groundwater caters to the remaining 14 per cent requirement, according to Oman’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning.
Such long-term visions have opened up massive opportunities for the transformation of Oman’s economy, and utility companies along with environmental services providers have taken the lead to drive the region’s water innovation market to deliver reliable and low-maintenance solutions.
In many cases, this is made possible by companies leveraging their technologies, services, and solutions to build and update their water treatment, desalination, and wastewater plants.
A prominent example of this is the integrated contract signed by bp Oman and Veolia Oman for water and waste management in the country.
While Oman’s private power and water industry is well developed, Veolia aims to nurture a new approach to wastewater management at the bp facility, unlocking great potential for this resource not just as an alternative water source, but also as a source of energy and nutrients as well as a means of protecting vital ecosystems.
Thanks to the adoption of cutting-edge technology, the project actively supports Oman’s efforts to reuse more treated wastewater to reduce the burden on desalination capacity and augment its water security, while developing significant sustainable technologies and infrastructure and creating a strong growth potential for water treatment installations.
Managing water resources is among the biggest challenges facing economies globally and in the region – but by leaning on innovative technologies, implementing practical wastewater solutions and developing robust wastewater treatment processes, countries and communities can overcome the challenge and embrace a secure and sustainable future.