Abu Dhabi Aquifer in Liwa

June 10, 2015 | Posted in United Arab Emirates By 4470 Views   No comments

Abu Dhabi has almost completed it aquifer water infrastructure projects in Liwa.

Abu Dhabi is just months away from filling the natural water storage, which, in case of an emergency, should ensure a 90-day supply of water for the capital city and all of the Western Region.

October should see the starting of filling up desalinated water to a fresh water underground aquifer near the Liwa oasis in the Western Region.

Once started the site will be filled with seven million gallons of desalinated water being pumped underground every day. In case of an emergency situation, as much as 40 million gallons of water can be used from the reservoir in a single day – for up to 90 days.

Abu Dhabi aquifer

Abu Dhabi aquifer


Liwa Oasis

Liwa Oasis

The project started in 2009 and had taken almost a decade due to modifications in the design and project study, said Dr Mohammed Dawoud, water resources manager at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

From October onwards, the EAD will start filling the first man-made underground water storage facility in the UAE, with seven million gallons of desalinated water to the man-made aquifer which can store fresh water up to 100 years.

The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) will start filling process from this October to the first man-made underground water storage facility.

A Dh5.5 billion project that took over a decade to complete, the first underground water storage, located in Liwa, in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, will be completed in October 2015 — ready to be injected daily with fresh, potable desalinated water.

The Abu Dhabi auifer has a main tunnel, which is 43 kilometres and the link to current water supply pipelines of 53km is also completed. The pumping station of aquifer is located at a depth of 100meter.

And after 27 days of pumping, the Liwa aquifer will reach its full, planned capacity of five billion gallons of water, which will be used only in case of extreme emergency cases.

Dr Mohammed Dawoud, Water Resources advisor for EAD said: “In case of an emergency, we can extract the water and supply it to Abu Dhabi and its surrounding areas using the existing water pipelines. The five billion gallons aquifer would be able to supply 180 litres of water per person per day for 90 days.”

The first thought was building water reservoirs, but after plenty of studies, they were deemed economically and environmentally unsuitable.

“To store five billion gallons of water, enough for emergencies only for 90 days, we would need to build 2,000 reservoirs. Apart from the expense, imagine how much land it would be needed,” said Al Dawoud.

“Also, in reservoirs water is stagnant and open to air pollution, so after five to seven days it would require changing. In aquifers, water can be stored up to 100 years.”

Once the Liwa aquifer will be filled with water, work will start for a second one, which will be built in Al Ain area, thus having both the eastern and the western regions of the emirate covered in case of an emergency.

The EAD started considering having water reserves for the emirate as scarcity of water became an increasingly realistic threat all over the world.

The environment agency began researching Abu Dhabi emirate’s underground water resources and found the little underground water reserves left were very high in salinity.

Only two fresh water ones were found, one in Liwa, and another near Al Ain, and these were the two spots selected to built on the existing natural aquifers.

In 2003, the EAD began the pilot project in Liwa and for five months it kept injecting the underground reserve with desalinated water for a few days, then extract it to check the quality.

After three years of assessments, the full scheme project was finally given the green light.

In case of a severe drought or any other emergency, the water inside the aquifer may be extracted using especially built recovery wells. Altogether, there are 105 recovery wells, but only 70 of them designated to be operated, the rest being used as back up.

The EAD has already overseen a pilot study of a similar aquifer project 30 kilometres north of Al Ain, and it will enable the whole emirate with enogh water supply.

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