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U N I T E D A R A B E M I R AT E S Y E A R B O O K 2 0 0 8

Excessive pumping and the lack of rainfall have been depleting groundwater levels and affecting water quality in many aquifers in the country.

GROUNDWATER

Although domestic water, especially in the larger emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is mainly produced by desalination, groundwater is a very important water resource, especially for agriculture and forestry. However, excessive pumping and the lack of rainfall have been depleting groundwater levels and affecting water quality in many aquifers in the country. To assist in remedying this, 115 rainfall-retention dams have been constructed, primarily in the Northern Emirates, to enhance the groundwater recharge. A large number of monitoring wells have also been installed within the vicinity of recharge dams to assess their efficiency and groundwater levels are measured monthly.

Since mid-2005, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has been responsible for groundwater resources management. The agency's monitoring activities include development of a water resources database, a well inventory and registration process, a new registration process for water-well contractors and water resources consultants, establishment of a groundwater resources monitoring network, and development of a water resources atlas. EAD is also in the process of developing an integrated water resources management plan. And finally, as a major step towards controlling groundwater development, a water well drilling law was passed in March 2006 and the well-permitting policy is managed by EAD.

A satellite imagery project run by the Centre for Remote Sensing, Boston University, USA, in cooperation with SEWA, which has been in operation for five years, is also crucial in preparing a long-term strategic plan for the rational use of groundwater resources in Sharjah and other Northern Emirates.

CONSERVATION

Given the scarcity of the country’s water resources and the acute awareness that regional water shortages are a major environmental challenge, water resource management and water conservation is a priority.

Proper management of limited available water resources was the subject in 2007 of a number of conferences and seminars, including the Water Resources Development, Conservation and Management

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