Water resources availability, sustainability and challenges in the GCC countries: An overview

Elsevier, Heliyon, Volume 9, October 2023
Sherif M., Liaqat M.U., Baig F., Al-Rashed M.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates. The GCC countries are located in an arid region. They have limited renewable water resources due to scarcity of rainfall. This paper provides the most recent and accurate quantitative and qualitative assessment of available water resources and demands in the GCC countries. The annual renewable surface water, desalinated capacity, wastewater treatment capacity, and per capita water consumption in the GCC countries are assessed. The possible impacts of climate change are discussed. The annual renewable surface water, desalinated capacity, and wastewater treatment capacity in the GCC countries are estimated as 4.14, 26.4, and 10.07 billion m3, respectively. The average per capita water consumption is around 550 l/d. The GCC countries have high water footprints. Although tertiary treated, the reuse of treated wastewater is limited and constrained to the development of forests and green areas. Water demand trends reveal the need for the implementation of sustainable water management programs. Emerging solutions include imposing a new tariff system, improving irrigation efficiency, controlling agricultural water consumption, developing innovative desalination and treatment technologies, maximizing treated wastewater utilization and rainwater harvesting, eliminating leakage in networks, and considering virtual water concepts in the water budget and planning.