Water Crisis in the Middle East

What if there is a crisis at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant on the Persian Gulf? How would radioactive contaminated sea water affect the desalination plants of other countries which are located on the Persian Gulf?

Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant a threat to Gulf water plans

The concerns are over a possible disaster at the Bushehr plant, which sits on an active seismic zone on the other side of the Arabian Gulf.

In the near-absence of natural water resources, the GCC states depend almost entirely for potable water on the shallow sea, whose water they desalinate at huge costs.

In that sense, and also because the GCC’s oil and gas exports are shipped through the Gulf, this shallow body of water is the lifeline of these countries and their people.

Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant a threat to Gulf water plans

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Saudi Arabia: The Desalination Nation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

Saudi Arabia is facing a water crisis. Despite the kingdom’s massive investments in desalination plants, demand is growing at a rate that threatens to outstrip supply, leading to the formulation of ambitious plans for the expansion of its desalination plants at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, amid calls from experts for urgent reforms of subsidies and water use.

Saudi Arabia is considered among the poorest countries in the world in terms of natural renewable water resources. It is a desert country with little precipitation and no rivers or lakes, leaving it dependent on an extensive infrastructure of costly and energy-intensive water desalination plants. The state-owned Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) operates 36 stations on the east and west coasts of the country, mostly on the Red Sea coast.

The kingdom is in urgent need of huge investments in order to address the annual increase in demand, which is among the highest in the world, coupled with the added strain of a population growth rate of more than 2.5%.

Saudi economic analyst Turki Al-Haqeel said that the demand for water in Saudi Arabia is growing by more than 8.8% annually and could more than double over the next two decades, which will in turn increase pressure on oil consumption, affecting the structure of the Saudi economy.

Saudi Arabia: The Desalination Nation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

How Yemen Chewed Itself Dry | Foreign Affairs

In a little over a decade, Sana’a, Yemen, may become the world’s first capital to run out of water. Failed governance and environmental mismanagement share some of the blame for drying up the city. But there is also a more surprising culprit: a national addiction to qat, a narcotic that is incredibly water-intensive to cultivate.

If current trends continue, by 2025 the city’s projected 4.2 million inhabitants will become water refugees, forced to flee their barren home for wetter lands. In preparation, some officials have already considered relocating the capital to the coast. Others have proposed focusing on desalination and conservation to buy time.

As policymakers butt heads over the best course for Yemen, the dwindling water supply is already leading to instability: according to Al-Thawra, one of the country’s leading newspapers, 70 to 80 percent of conflicts in Yemen’s rural regions are water-related. And across the country, Yemen’s Interior Ministry estimates, water- and land-related disputes result in about 4,000 deaths each year — 35 times the number of casualties in the deadliest al Qaeda attack in the county’s history.

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How Yemen Chewed Itself Dry | Foreign Affairs

As Gaza heads for water crisis, desalination seen key – Israel Business, Ynetnews

With 90-95% of Strip’s only aquifer contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater, public taps provide water for only about 20% of population, forcing many more residents to buy bottled water at a premium

As Gaza heads for water crisis, desalination seen key – Israel Business, Ynetnews

Water crisis will make Gaza strip ‘unliveable’ | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Iran Becoming ‘Uninhabitable,’ Says Former Agriculture Minister | Iran Pulse: Must-Reads from Iran Today

On Iran’s water crisis, Kalatantari said, “Our main problem that threatens us, that is more dangerous than Israel, America or political fighting, is the issue of living in Iran. It is that the Iranian plateau is becoming uninhabitable … groundwater has decreased and a negative water balance is widespread, and no one is thinking about this.”

Kalantari continued, “I am deeply worried about the future generations. There has been livelihood in Iran for 7,000 years. We do not have a right with this lack of planning to confront the country with this great of a challenge.” On whether others have noticed this issue, Kalantari said, “I have said it everywhere. If this situation is not reformed, in 30 years Iran will be a ghost town. Even if there is precipitation in the desert, there will be no yield, because the area for groundwater will be dried and water will remain at ground level and evaporate.”

Iran Becoming ‘Uninhabitable,’ Says Former Agriculture Minister | Iran Pulse: Must-Reads from Iran Today

Iran’s Water Crisis: A Bigger Threat Than Israel? | The Editor | The Diplomat

Middle East facing water shortage crisis – UPI.com

The AGU study, published in its journal Water Resources Research Feb. 15, showed that freshwater reserves in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers that rise in Turkey and flow southward into the Persian Gulf have lost 144 cubic kilometers of the total stored fresh water in 2003-09.

That, the study says, constitutes the second fastest loss of groundwater storage after India.

The main reasons for this loss of water were listed as increased demand, poor management — a perennial problem in the Arab world — and the impact of the devastating 2007 drought, whose effects are still being felt. Over pumping of ground water was the primary cause.

With water run-off in the region expected to decline 10 percent by 2050 and demand set to rise 60 percent by 2045, “these findings have heightened concerns of an impending regional water crisis,” Oxford Analytica said.

The region’s main rivers — the Euphrates, Tigris and Nile — are the focus of major water disputes, with little prospect any of them will be resolved in the foreseeable future.

Middle East facing water shortage crisis – UPI.com

Losing the Nile

Egypt has long held unrivaled “historic rights” over nearly all of the Nile River’s resources. But now all that could be changing as upstream states like Ethiopia and Burundi seize on Egypt’s post-revolution political uncertainty to finally wrest at least some control of the world’s longest river. The result could be mean dire food and water shortages for Egypt, and maybe another revolution.

In-Depth Series: The Nile’s Water | GlobalPost