All around the world water consumption has been increasing in recent years as new reasons for using water occur, whether in industry, agriculture, in the home or for leisure. There are two reasons for this, a general improvement in living standards coupled with the rise in population. Many human activities use water for example as in agriculture, industry and for personal use such as when cooking, bathing and the washing of personal property such as clothes and cars. There are also increasing leisure uses as in swimming pools, pleasure gardens and water parks.
To give one example, in Kuwait the consumption rate of water increased rapidly after the discovery of oil in 1930s. This discovery naturally brought a great deal of wealth to the country and people began to buy consumer goods that they had not had before such as washing machines, refrigerators and dish washers and to install such things as showers and bathrooms. Kuwait is a comparatively small country being only 17,820 km square and with a present population of 2,505,559 of whom roughly half, some 1,291,354, are non-Kuwaiti citizens.
It is located in the Middle East, a region that is characterized by its extremely hot, dry climate in summer with a high evaporation rate (long season), and another cooler season, winter, with some rainfall (short season). The terrain in Kuwait consists almost entirely of flat desert with arid soil, little or no surface water for irrigation and a harsh climate. In the past, due to the lack of other water sources such as major rivers and lakes, Kuwait had to rely on rain water collected near the surface in shallow wells such as that discovered in 1905, a large fresh water well in the Hawally area.
However, due to gradual population growth and the continued low annual rainfall in the region, the known wells eventually proved unable to supply sufficient water to met the needs of the population. At first the problem was temporarily overcome by the use of special ships in order to bring water from Shaat Al-Arab in Iraq. This fresh water was then stored in tanks and a basic primitive distribution network was established which met needs for the next few years. After the first oil shipment was made in 1946, Kuwait became a very wealthy country.
From that time on the Kuwaiti government started to look for other solutions to the problem of the country’s inadequate natural water resources. . The government wanted to develop the country and to expand industry in order to benefit from the new wealth that was coming in as more and more oil was exported. The amount of water and electricity available was therefore an important concern. Water consumed in Kuwait at the present time comes from two main sources, fresh water obtained from desalination plants, and brackish water which usually comes from groundwater.
Both of these are delivered to householders, farms, irrigation and industrial facilities, but in separate pipes. The lower quality brackish groundwater water is only delivered on two days per week to each consumer. This brackish water is sent without charge to consumers through a network pipe lines which run parallel to the fresh water distribution lines and it is provided from the main distribution water system. The government uses it for mixing with distilled water for irrigation and landscaping as well as house-hold purposes, livestock watering and construction work, while the fresh water is for human use, drinkin g, cooking etc.
Since Kuwait has developed into a much richer country than previously the consumption of both types of water, fresh and brackish has increased immensely. This is mainly because of the growth of population and lifestyle development since the oil was discovered and Kuwait became a developed rich country. The ministry of electricity and water realised the need for new desalination plants. The aim was to produce 375 million imperial gallons per day in order to meet the increased rate of water consumption.
I t was reported that in the final quarter of 2006, freshwater distribution was in fact somewhat lower than the estimated consumption. The consumption of fresh water in November 2006 was around 303. 6 Million Imperial Gallons (MIG) , an increase from the previous year 2005 when in the same month the rate of consumption had been 279. 6 MIG. Until the late fifties the population of Kuwait could be counted only in tens of thousands. It reached around two million during the nineties. This naturally resulted in a massive increase in water consumption.
In 1957, the consumption of fresh water was 648 MIG and increased tenfold to 6638 MIG by 1970. The consumption of fresh water in 1989 reached 47605 MIG, but then it decreased for a time due to the Iraqi invasion in 1991when it fell to 30814 MIG. Since 1992 the consumption of fresh water has gradually increased once more and reached 67464 MIG in 1996. The consumption rate until the year 2005 is shown in detail in Figure 1. below. Figure 1: shows the gross consumption and the daily average consumption of fresh water from 1988 to 2005. On the other hand, 527 MIG was the amount used of brackish water in 1957.
It had gone up more than 18 times in 23 years reach 9750 MIG in 1980 and further increased by 1989 to 17998 MIG. As well as the decrease in fresh water consumption in 1991 due to the Iraqi invasion, brackish water consumption decreased for the same reason to 1669 MIG. Since 1992, brackish water consumption again rose and reached 19697 MIG in 1994, but it decreased fro a short period due to the change in the system of supply in 1995 to 15957 MIG. The consumption of brackish water in 1996 has increased again to 17875 MIG. Figure 2 shows the consumption rate up until year 2005
Figure 2: shows the gross consumption of brackish water from 1989 to 2005. Most of the consumers receive the two different types of water by the national distribution network of pipelines, but some of them are reached by ”car-based tanks”. This is especially so in the new towns and outlying settlements that have not yet been linked to the distribution network service. The extensive network of pipelines makes the consumption rate higher because of the easy availability of water at all times while consumers who use water from portable tanks have more limited water supplies and so are more careful about usage and less wasteful.
The consumption of both types of water usually increases in summer due to the arid location, very hot climate and the resulting dust which results in the need for more cleaning, cooling and irrigation of gardens and crops etc. Details of the consumption rate per month for year 2004 and 2005 is shown in figure 3 (fresh water) and 4 (brackish water). Figure 3: shows the production and consumption of water monthly for year 2004 and 2005. Figure 4: shows the production and consumption of brackish monthly for year 2004 and 2005. Agriculture is not one of the big concerns in this very arid country compared with other types of development.
Because of the lack of natural resources and the unavailability of fresh water Kuwait’s agricultural needs were met in the past by water from the brackish groundwater or in some cases from fresh water wells (very rare and some are man made) in places such as Al Abdily, Al Wafra and Fontas. Since the introduction of desalination plants and the improvements made to the distribution networks, agriculture has developed and expanded. Farms in Al Wafra and Al Abdily have become the highest water consumers in Kuwait. These farms are divided into two sections, that is those that are privately owned and state owned farms.
Irrigation schemes for planting streets, decorating roads and for public parks are also expanded in Kuwait. Some of these places are irrigated by a specific distribution system, some by drip irrigation and others by water tanks. Kuwait may be regarded, if one ignores the oil industry, as a non industrial country when compared with other countries such as the USA or Japan, but it does have several minor industrial facilities. For example there are food production, plastic and aluminium processing plants. The most important manufacturing section in Kuwait however is concerned with oil and its byproducts.
(petrochemicals). Kuwait is one of biggest producers of oil for export. Oil derivatives such as pesticides, benzine, diesel, plastic, blacktop etc are sold by the state to met public needs. This has made the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) the largest industrial water consumer when compared with other industrial facilities. In 1951, the consumption of water was 80000 G/d for the KOC. Currently, the production of oil is around 2. 5 million barrels per day. This means a huge need for water because it is required for oil processes such as cooling systems, cleaning, pumping and many other uses.
Due to the growth in oil production the amount of water needed has naturally also increased sharply compared to the amount consumed in the fifties. In the early days however technology was not as developed as it is now, and today a portion of the water used by the KOC comes from the oil production wells themselves. When the oil is pumped out it is accompanied by water. This water is in most cases a very acidic effluent. It must be treated to reduce its acidity to a more neutral level close to that in sea water, because otherwise it could prove to be harmful to the environment.
The water is then returned back into the ground in order to create enough pressure to push more oil up. When the amount of this effluent water is not enough, additional amounts of sea water are used to maintain sufficient pressure. In some cases water that is somewhat better in quality is also produced and this water can be treated and then used for such things as cooling systems and cleaning. The desalination factories also use large amounts of water for cleaning and in order to run the cooling systems necessary for their proper function as shown in figure 5 .