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Prospects for agricultural water management
The national strategy and policy for the development of water resources and irrigation consists of a short-term strategy and a long term strategy.
The short-term strategy aims at improving the present water use situation. To prevent further depletion and pollution of groundwater the following measures will be implemented in the near future:
- Water meters will be installed in all wells;
- After the installation of water meters, it should be ensured that the water allocated for each farm shall not be exceeded;
- The farm owner shall not irrigate more than the area specified and shall not install any water conveyance and irrigation systems in contravention of the instructions issued by the DAWR;
- The owner of the farm shall be required to take all necessary steps for the protection and maintenance of wells, pumps, conveyance and distribution pipelines, irrigation systems and all control devices.
Notwithstanding the implementation of groundwater laws, the DAWR has taken several steps to improve irrigation efficiency and increase crop production:
- Adoption of cropping patterns for each farm in accordance with the salinity of irrigation water and characteristics of the soil;
- A ban on the drilling of new boreholes in the areas most affected where there is excessive abstraction or where the water salinity of wells exceeds 12 000 Ámhos/cm;
- Stop awarding permits for establishing new farms or extending existing farms until the aquifer has returned to its equilibrium state;
- Encourage the shift to protected agriculture;
- Make full use of non-conventional water resources for crops irrigation. This includes the use of treated sewage effluent and the possible use of desalinated groundwater for irrigation and cooling greenhouses;
- Study the possibility of introducing a pricing system for water consumption with penalties for extravagant water use and incentives for water saving;
- Provide interest-free loans to farmers to promote modern irrigation systems with a repayable period of several years.
The MMAA is planning to implement a technical study and survey for the development of groundwater resources over the next two years. This study includes the mechanism of natural and artificial recharge, monitoring the new wells network, monitoring the groundwater rate of recharge and abstraction and water quality, preparation of a 3-D groundwater flow model and establishment of groundwater geographic information system.
The Permanent Water Resources Committee (PWRC) has launched a long-term programme for integrated water resource management in Qatar. The general objective of the program is to formulate a comprehensive National Water Resources Management and Development Strategy (NWRMDS) with a planning vision up to the year 2050.
The future demand to meet the municipal and industrial requirements can be achieved by increasing the capacity of the existing desalination plants and from building new desalination plants. Food self-sufficiency is not a practical policy and taking into account land availability and climate factors, the amount of food capable of being produced will be based on the following water resources for irrigation:
- The safe yield of groundwater, which is 58 million m3/year (DAWR, Groundwater Unit, 2006);
- Availability of TSE, which is expected to be 129 million m3 in 2013, 193 million m3 in 2020 and 255 million m3 in 2050 (Public Works Authority, 2005);
- Availability of Gas-to-Liquid treated industrial wastewater which is expected to reach a ceiling of 50 million m3/year after several years;
- Other water resources could be investigated for technical and economic feasibility including:
- Reuse of drainage water under Doha city (20 million m3/year of TDS in the range of 7 000 mg/l) for irrigating salt-tolerant crops (Public Works Authority, 2005);
- Seeding of clouds for enhancement of water resources;
- Using desalinated water for irrigation and cooling greenhouses.
The long-term strategy includes the implementation of artificial recharge of groundwater in the northern aquifer. The main objective of this project is to restore the groundwater reservoir to its state of balance during the 1970s.