As part of the SUBSOL project “Bringing coastal SUBsurface water SOLutions to the market” a delegation from the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Germany and the KWR Watercycle Research Institute, The Netherlands visited the Arab Gulf countries Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June 2018. The aim was to learn about the national approaches for Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) and Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) and discuss potential future cooperation in these areas with partners at national level. The outcome of the visit will be summarized in a short assessment report to be published on the SUBSOL website http://www.subsol.org.
In Oman the SUBSOL partners met under the coordination of Dr. Ali Al-Maktoumi from the College of Agriculture and Marine Sciences (CAMS), Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) with national stakeholders from the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources (MRMWR), the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Public Authority of Energy and Water (PAEW/Diam) and Haya Water. After the presentations of the SUBSOL program and their coastal groundwater-related technical expertise, the discussion focused on Oman and the two parallel tracks of investigations for the storage and recovery of excess desalinated water and of surplus treated sewage effluent in the coastal subsurface, especially in the coastal alluvial aquifers in North and South Batinah regions. Following the meeting, the group visited the larger flood protection and recharge dam facility in Al Khoud to better understand the specific challenges faced by using recharge dams in Oman.
For Bahrain, Prof. Dr. Waleed Al-Zubari from the Arabian Gulf University (AGU) organized an exchange between the SUBSOL BGR members and national institutions such as the Sanitary Engineering Planning & Projects Directorate (SEPPD), Sanitation Affairs and the Directorate of Agricultural Engineering and Water Resources, Agricultural Affairs, both under the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning (MWMAUP). In Bahrain, the national interest currently focuses on direct reuse of treated sewage effluent (TSE) especially in irrigation for productive agriculture and landscaping. For potential future excess TSE it is intended to develop aquifer storage and recovery options primarily in the relatively high transmissivity limestone aquifer of the Khobar member, Dammam formation. Supported by SEPPD, the SUBSOL BGR members visited the Tubli Water Pollution Control Centre (WPCC) and learned about the tertiary treatment of sewage as currently performed in Bahrain.
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Prof. Dr. Mohsen Sherif, Director of the National Water Center (NWC) at the University of the United Arab Emirates (UAEU) welcomed the SUBSOL BGR members at their office in Al Ain. In the discussion, both sides learned from their respective experiences in different fields of groundwater research, including coastal groundwater management and managed aquifer recharge. Current priorities in the UAE are focusing on the storage of excess desalinated water primarily in fresh water aquifers. Treated sewage effluent is used mainly for irrigation in landscaping and forests. One area for potential applications of SUBSOL subsurface technologies could be the mitigation of seawater intrusion through pumping of brackish water and simultaneous recharging of coastal aquifers with desalinated water.
All partners in Oman, Bahrain and the UAE as well as the European partners expressed their interest to develop joint research activities to address the storage and recovery of excess desalinated water or treated sewage effluent in aquifers with brackish to saline groundwater. Based on the positive outcomes of these first meetings, further exchanges and cooperation proposals are planned in the near future.
Picture above:: SUBSOL meeting with Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Oman: Dr. Al-Bemani, Vice Chancellor (center), Dr. Al-Yahyai, Dean CAMS (right), Dr. Al-Maktoumi, Assistant Dean CAMS (left), SUBSOL group (f.l.t.r.): Dr. Groeschke, Dr. Klingbeil, both BGR, and Dr. Raat, KWR