Saudi Arabia is facing a looming disaster in the next three decades as the country is steadily running through its supply of nonrenewable groundwater reserves.
The kingdom’s unsustainable and extravagant use of water is rapidly depleting the country’s reserves and, if not limited, could soon lead to an environmental and social catastrophe, Al-Araby reports.
“Saudi Arabia is facing a catastrophe if agricultural practices don’t change. The remaining groundwater needs to be preserved,” Ali al-Takhees, the former undersecretary of the Saudi ministry of agriculture, told Al-Araby.
According to al-Takhees, Saudi Arabia is running through its groundwater at a perilous rate.
Within three decades, if patterns of use do not change, the country is predicted to face a significant drought. Other predictions for the country are even more dire.
Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, a member of King Faisal University, told The Independent that groundwater in the country could run out in as little as 13 years.
“Official estimates have been disclosed showing an acute drop in water levels in agricultural areas, and that indicates the seriousness of the situation,” Al-Ghamdi said.
To curb the use of water in the country, The Independent reports, the country has started taxing its citizens for water use. This tariff will have the added benefit of attempting to address the kingdom’s ballooning deficit caused by the collapse of oil prices.
Saudi residents on average use significantly more water than residents of the comparatively water-rich Europe. According to Al-Araby, Saudis on average use more than double the amount of water each day than those in the European Union.
This extravagant use, in conjunction with the inability of rain to fill anything but the most shallow aquifers in Saudi Arabia, does not bode well for the kingdom if it does not take dramatic actions.
Already, The Independent notes, reservoirs in central Saudi Arabia have “turned into sand pits.”