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Sustainable use of groundwater to be discussed at Liwa Date Festival

2015-07-23 07:14:13

62% of Abu Dhabi’s annual demand for water is specifically for groundwater.

In an effort to safeguard Abu Dhabi’s groundwater resources, palm date farmers are being invited to take part in talks discussing more efficient and sustainable ways of using groundwater, as part of this year’s Liwa Date Festival.

The forums are being organised by the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), and aim to educate and provide farmers with more environmentally sustainable ways of using their irrigation systems.

Currently, 62 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s annual demand for water is specifically for groundwater, and is mainly used in agriculture, forestry and landscape irrigation. The EAD has said that it plans on reducing groundwater use by 80 per cent in forestry by 2030, citing a deterioration in groundwater use in both quality and availability.

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of EAD, highlighted the importance of protecting Abu Dhabi’s groundwater resources, saying, “Safeguarding the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s groundwater resources is one of our priority areas, and so it is our responsibility, as well as that of our partners, to work together to protect our water resources. Without farmers’ support, groundwater depletion will continue to lead to irreversible deterioration of groundwater quality which, in turn, will impact the farmers’ livelihood.”

“It is through initiatives like the majlis (forum) at the Liwa Date Festival that we can encourage positive behavioural changes that will conserve and protect this dwindling supply of this precious resource, and protect farmers’ means of living,” she added.

Providing assistance and ideas to farmers is one of the key goals behind the talks in order to achieve success, according to Mansour Khamees Al Tamimi, groundwater scientist at EAD. “We’re looking to use the Liwa Date Festival to provide farmers with necessary technical support, offer innovative solutions and ideas, and to promote the use of recycled water as an alternative to groundwater and plant native species instead of the non-native species that require a lot more water.”

“By being at the Liwa Date Festival, we aim to promote the sustainable use of groundwater among date farmers by showcasing the best ways to make date forests more water-efficient,” he added.

During the festival, the EAD will also be showcasing one if its successful experimental projects carried out at the Khub Al Dhas forest, using recycled water for the water requirements of the trees rather than depending on the use of groundwater alone.