MANAMA : Bahrain and other GCC countries are facing a huge potential water crisis, it was revealed yesterday. Aridity, galloping demography, urbanisation boom and improved living standards are putting enormous pressure on supplies, prompting a call to map out a future-oriented strategy to ensure water security in the Gulf region.
"GCC member states rely heavily on desalinated water to meet 90 per cent of their needs," GCC Unified Water Strategy director Dr Abdulaziz Al Turbak said.
He was speaking at the final session of the GCC National and Regional Security Conference , at the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa .
The Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (DERASAT) organised the two-day event under the theme 'Inside View'.
Addressing the conference, Dr Al Turbak stressed the detrimental impact of agriculture on scant water resources over the past few decades. He pointed out growing demand on water for domestic and industrial use, warning against the acute drop in groundwater, particularly in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Citing latest figures, he said a third of oil production is used in operating water desalination plants. He urged GCC countries to optimise waste water through non-conventional technologies, describing water security as a collective effort that should engage the community.
He also underscored putting forward a unified GCC water strategy and pumping more investment into this vital sector.
Dr Al Turbak called for stronger Arab and Islamic co-operation to better deal with potential food and water challenges.
Kuwait Centre for Water Research executive director Dr Mohammed Fahd Al Rashid urged a long-term strategy to address water challenges.
Addressing the forum, he called for a GCC strategic water reserve college.
He outlined several options, including the use of solar energy to desalinate water and meet growing demand. He also highlighted successful water conservation strategies in the US and Japan .