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United Arab Emirates
Prospects for agricultural water management
At present the total water demand for all uses is met almost entirely by overabstraction from the strategic groundwater aquifer resource. The following sets out the main issues and defines the elements of a sustainable water resource strategy (MOEW, 2006):
- Provision of suitable baseline data;
- Quantification of the sustainable yields of natural water resources;
- Identification of desalinated water production and distribution;
- Quantification of existing demands on the system;
- Prediction of likely future demands on the system;
- Assessment of additional water resource requirements and economic feasibility;
- Development and implementation of a demand management policy;
- Specification of water resources objectives and targets.
The first step in advancing the water resources strategy is to understand the present and probable future water resources and demand situation. This requires a baseline data set incorporating information on all of the factors influencing the resource-demand balance. The sustainable yield of the various natural water resources must be determined. The groundwater aquifers are key to this process. Careful consideration of the recharge capacity for all climate scenarios and any artificial recharge options will be required and average and critical period demand provisions will be evaluated.
Having established the water resources situation, including natural resources and the potential use of wastewater and desalinated water, a more detailed analysis of the existing demands is required. A prediction of future demands should then include scenarios for progressive municipal, agricultural and industrial development.
Within the national strategy for water management, priority is given to sustainable and economically viable agricultural products and to research on the growth of salt tolerant crops. Utilizing all the possible options, the ultimate aim is to maintain the present level of growth if further development is obstructed because of water scarcity.