How does Saudi Arabia Get its Water?

Saudi Arabia is known to be among the driest kingdoms in the world. It has no or less perennial rivers making it obtain its waters in the following four distinct areas: 

  • Desalinated waters
  • The non-renewable groundwaters obtained from deep fossil aquifers
  • Renewable water obtained from the shallow aquifers alluvial
  • Through the renewable surface water

All renewable sources of water contain low volumes of water. Of the highlighted sources of water, desalination waters provide the largest volume of water for the country, reaching about half of the country’s contribution to drinking water. 

Groundwater provides roughly 40% to 45% of the country’s drinking water. Surface water contributes approximately 10%. 

Deep Fossils Groundwater Aquifers

How does Saudi Arabia get water from Deep Fossils groundwater aquifers.

The extraction levels of the fossils for the past 25 years have gone deeper than the natural recharge to a depth of 150 meters. These estimates are however controversial due to the principal aquifers making it unclear how long this groundwater can be mined and sustained. 

The estimated stored water before modern farming was introduced was roughly 500B cm3 which is equal to Lake Erie’s estimated water levels. 

Desalinated Water

One of the largest water productions in Saudi Arabia originates from the twenty-seven desalination plants. 

Roughly 12 of these plants use MSF distillation while the other 7 plants use the MED distillation method. These distillation processes are integrated with the power plant’s steam as its the source of primary energy 

The remaining eight plants use RO (reverse osmosis) power and technology from the grid. 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is known to hold 40% of the Arab’s desalinated water. 

Moreover, this source of water needs a lot of energy, leading to almost 25% of Saudi Arabia’s gas and oil production being directed to the generation of electricity and the production of water from the cogeneration power desalination plants. 

Solar Powered Desalination

KSA established a 130 million solar-powered desalination plant that carries out reverse osmosis and was deemed to contain a capacity of 60000 m³ per day.

Floating desalination

These barges have been operational since 2008 to cater to the increasing demand for water on the Kingdom’s West Coast. The largest floating plant was deemed to supply around 25000 m³ per day which is sufficient to supply more than 20000 residents in the Kingdom with drinking water. 

Surface Water and Alluvial Aquifers

There has been an estimate of two billion cubic meters per annum.

The Kingdom is equipped with about 11 aquifers which averagely recharge a total of one billion meters cubic per annum. 

The renewable aquifers and water resources are mostly in the South West and West where rainfall occurs in plenty.

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