What does Integrated Water Resources Management from Local to Global Perspective Mean? Qatar as a Case Study, the Very Rich Country with No Water

Basem Shomar, Mohamed Darwish, Candace Rowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


Management of water resources is a very challenging issue, particularly in regions of the world where water is almost absent. In the Gulf Region, this issue is especially complex due to harsh-arid environments and increasing anthropogenic input of pollutants from the energy industry. The emergence of nations rich in oil and gas, such as Qatar, but poor in water resources requires new and dynamic systems and plans for managing limited water resources in times of extreme growth, such plans are discussed in this paper. The State of Qatar's average annual evaporation rate is 30 times more than precipitation and the country depends on desalinated water to meet 99 % of its municipal water needs. Additionally, increasing population growth coupled with tremendous urbanization and industrialization add more stress to the existing renewable water resources, and newly produced water, namely desalted seawater and treated wastewater. Absence of water tariff and a water pricing system along with a lack of conservation awareness places Qatar as one of the highest water consuming countries in the world. Municipal water consumption per capita per day reached 500 L/ca.d for the year 2013. Dumping of sea to build new cities and construct towers makes the area very susceptible to salt water instruction, a phenomenon that does not only affect the groundwater aquifer system but also the construction materials and building deformations. Currently, Qatar uses the most advanced technologies for treating wastewater; however, the pure treated wastewater is not considered a viable water resource and is not used in areas of critical water demand such as agriculture and landscaping. Social, religious, and local marketing views limit the current use of treated wastewater. Integrated water and wastewater management strategies are absent and the national players of the two sectors -water and wastewater-are different. Current plans for integrated water resources management (IWRM) cannot answer the basic questions, what to manage and in which scale; is it the brackish and unused groundwater or the desalinated water from the existing technologies, the supply or the demand or all? This paper tries to highlight some facts related to Qatar's water situation as an arid Gulf State and introduces potential ideas for IWRM. The critical aspects of IWRM discussed herein are relevant to a number of nations in the global community dealing with issues of extreme water insecurity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2781-2791
Number of pages11
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014



  • Brackish groundwater
  • Desalinated water
  • Harsh environment
  • IWRM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Civil and Structural Engineering

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