Urban growth in arid environments : developing water sustainability indicators for Abu Dhabi (UAE)
Alsalmi, Huda, Elkadi, Hisham and Leao, Simone 2013, Urban growth in arid environments : developing water sustainability indicators for Abu Dhabi (UAE), in Liveable Cities 2013 : Making cities liveable - designing health cities and sustaibable communities : Proceedings of the 6th Making Cities Liveable Conference, AST Management, Nerang, Qld., pp. 5-25.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) face a serious water problem. It has a very dry climate, high evaporation rate, combined with large water consumption from fast growing population, economic activities and uncontrolled uses of water for irrigation. Currently, UAE has one of the largest water footprints in the world. Groundwater is overexploited. Waste water is increasingly being treated to supply non-drinking water, but it still cover a small proportion of the demand. Desalination of sea water is the main source of potable water in UAE, but the high economic cost of desalination, its intensive energy demand and the adverse effects of its effluents on the marine life are a major concern. Other factors contributing to the problem are the focus of water management policies on keep supplying the growing demand for water, the increase of the per capita water consumption, and the free water charge for most of population. This research goal is to develop a water sustainability set of indicators for the challenging context of UAE. This paper presents the first stage of the research. Based on a review of the literature, the proposed framework involves 19 indicators, divided into four categories: water availability; water quality; water use efficiency; and policy and governance. Using an integrated cause-effect approach (DSR - Driving force, State, Response), the indicators were related in terms of their interdependencies, with a holistic view of the city water cycle. A preliminary test of the indicators to Abu Dhabi as a case study allowed an evaluation of the main 'Driving force' on the system, such as the scarcity of water due to natural constraints of the region, and increasing water consumption patterns of modern society; an assessment of the current 'state', which is under serious water stress. Also it indicated some potential 'responses', such as implementing policies for increasing efficient use.
Field of Research
120104 Architectural Science and Technology (incl Acoustics, Lighting, Structure and Ecologically Sustainable Design)
Socio Economic Objective
960609 Sustainability Indicators
HERDC Research category
E2 Full written paper - non-refereed / Abstract reviewed
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