H20 IN OMAN’S DNA

Oman 2017 | ENVIRONMENT & UTILITIES | FOCUS: WATER

Oman is showing a renewed commitment to providing smart water solutions and improving the country's water-related infrastructure.

Plans for various water projects in Oman have been dominating local media coverage throughout the year. The score of planned projects are born out of several different local factors, the center of which is the anticipated rise in the demand for potable water, with demand in Muscat alone estimated to rise 6% each year for the next five years. The Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW) says the water network will have to more than triple by 2035 in order to supply piped water to at least 90% of the population. The PAEW also said overall water demand in the Sultanate has increased 15% per year over the past few years.

The largest government-owned entity leading this charge is the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), which is the sole buyer of power and water for all IPP/IWP projects in Oman and which works to carry out the mandate of the PAEW. Exemplifying Oman's commitment to water solutions, the PAEW emergency water storage reservoir project picked up a prestigious GCC-wide award as part of the MEED Quality Awards for Projects. This emergency storage project consists of six water reservoirs located at four key areas around the capital, with the aim of providing a back-up supply of water for at least seven days following any major water shortage or a disruption in the Muscat water scheme. These reservoirs are forecasted to be able to cover sudden changes in demand until the year 2035.

The country has also seen a proliferation of massive independent water projects (IWPs) in areas of strategic importance. The OPWP recently floated four tenders to develop two IWPs: one in Duqm and one in Khasab. The large-scale project in Duqm will have a water desalination production capacity of 60,000 cubic meters of water per day, while the Khasab project will allow for a 16,000-20,0000 cubic meters of water generation capacity. Also in Duqm, the PAEW will put in place a 25km potable water distribution network for the port. This is merely the tip of the iceberg. There are six major water and electricity programs set to be operational in Oman between 2019 and 2020. These projects range in size and location, from the Salalah Independent Water Project, which will have a capacity of 100,000 cubic meters per day, to the Al Sharqiyah IWPP at Al Ash'kharah, an 80,000 cubic meter project. Desalination projects were also announced to take place in Salalah and Al Sharqiyah.

In addition to more traditional water projects designed to desalinate and distribute water, Omani companies are also becoming increasingly creative in finding ways to recycle and treat water. A major government-owned water reuse company announced it will more than double its capacity at two key sewage treatment plants in Muscat, in line with its vision to bring about a world-class and fully modernized system to the capital. Oman will also commence a sewage project in the Liwa region of Oman at the end of 2016. This project encapsulates how water savvy Oman is becoming. This 10,000 cubic meter project will play many different roles; it will protect groundwater and preserve the environment by treating wastewater for use in agricultural, industrial, and commercial purposes. Another part of the project calls for the construction of a 63km irrigation network, through which it will deliver this treated water to relevant industries or commercial enterprises. Majis Industrial Services is another local company that is on the forefront of implementing new technologies in water services. In an exclusive interview with TBY, Majis CEO Ahmed Al-Mazrouy said the company will be the first in Oman to sell recycled water. He argues, effectively, that using drinking water for industrial services is wasteful compared to the prospect of using recycled and treated water. In more ways than one, Oman's water developments are progressing swimmingly.