In Part II I wrote about the tricky relationship between water, energy, food, and economy and how current trends indicate there is little time to make some very big changes. In this post I am going to explore the goals put forth for 2025 by the National Water Strategy.
Saudi Arabia’s 2025 National Water Strategy (NWS) puts forth policies targeting three strategies areas:
1: Water resources management
2: Water Governance & Institutions
3: Water Supply Services
The underlying goals of the strategy are to introduce technological and institutional innovations to improve management, enhance services and reduce costs, and protect and conserve the environment in all sector activities. The targets are the following, sourced from the NWS:
The most important point on this is the total water withdrawals: Saudi Arabia intends to reduce its entire water consumption by more than 50% from 21.1 bcm per year to 9.5 bcm per year. The difference is nearly 12 bcm per year, or slightly less than the country’s total in current agricultural irrigation. In fact almost all of that drop is anticipated to be from reduced irrigation:
Nearly all of that drop in consumption is in agricultural use. Here the 2025 plan shows where that drop will happen; date production will be preserved, and some emphasis on fruits and vegetables. However, fodder and cereals will be entirely phased out. Total agricultural water use in this plan will drop by 11.5 bcm per year, accounting for 95% of the drop in water consumption.
In other words, Saudi Arabia hopes to limit growth of urban and industrial water to only .5 bcm till 2025, and to cut total water use almost entirely through irrigation. Despite the population growing at 2% per year and water consumption per capita growing at 8% per year, it is hoped that more efficient production and distribution, as well as increased water recycling will account for that growth.