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Challenges Facing Water Resources

  • Abdulrahman S. Alsharhan
  • Zeinelabidin E. Rizk
Chapter
  • 51 Downloads
Part of the World Water Resources book series (WWR, volume 3)

Abstract

This chapter discusses the problems facing conventional water resources, including surface water and groundwater. The surface-water sources are seasonal floods, permanent springs and aflaj systems, while the groundwater resources are stored in various aquifers all over the country. The chapter also deals with the problems facing non-conventional water resources, including desalinated water (coastal and inland desalination processes) and treated wastewater.

The problems facing surface water are pollution from surface sources, inadequate quality for domestic uses, shortage and scarcity of recharge. The groundwater resources receive limited recharge from rain in the northern and eastern parts of the country and are generally suffering from scarcity, depletion and declining groundwater levels, water logging, increasing salinity, salt-water intrusion, hardness, unsuitability for irrigation and pollution.

The thermal desalination plants suffer from scale formation and precipitation, while the plants applying reverse osmosis face fouling and corrosion. These problems decrease the efficiency and production of plants. Water desalination has been criticized based on economic, environmental and security grounds. Disposal of reject brine is the main problem facing desalination industry. Discharge of reject brines in coastal areas leads to negative physical, chemical and biological impacts on the marine environment. In case of inland desalination plants, uncontrolled disposal of reject brines leads to serious pollution of groundwater problems. On the other hand, oil pollution of feedwater, algal growth, thermal pollution, salinity problems and heavy metals threaten desalination plants.

The problems facing reuse of treated wastewater are mainly psychological, such as fear of infectious diseases, unrest and belief that this water is unsafe, irrespective of the level of treatment. Also, there is a direct relationship between certain diseases and the use of treated wastewater for irrigation. Conventional wastewater-treatment methods do not completely remove harmful pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Finally, the use of treated wastewater leads to accumulations of heavy metals such as cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn). Reclamation of soils having heavy-metal concentrations exceeding the maximum permissible limits is difficult.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdulrahman S. Alsharhan
    • 1
  • Zeinelabidin E. Rizk
    • 2
  1. 1.Middle East Geological and Environmental EstablishmentDubaiUnited Arab Emirates
  2. 2.University of Science and Technology of FujairahFujairahUnited Arab Emirates

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