ESCWA through its Regional Advisor Environment and Water, Dr. Ralf Klingbeil, assisted Bahrain during a mission in November 2012 in its efforts for improving national water demand management. Upon request from the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) Mr. Klingbeil visited Bahrain in November 2012 to review national policies and practices in rationalizing water consumption. During his mission he visited the offices of EWA and some consumer premises in the field and proposed options for strengthening the national water demand management program.
Overall water production in Bahrain amounts to approx. 500 l/d per capita. In certain areas leakages in the water distribution can range between 30 and 50 %. Taking into account losses in the public network, water consumption levels are considered high with between 273-318 l/d per capita. The EWA estimates that an average consumption of 150 l/d is feasible if water consumption can be reduced further to the actually necessary volumes.
Most of the water consumed at household, commercial or industrial level originates from desalinated seawater. Hence, the EWA aims at reducing losses in water distribution systems in public network and at the consumer side. This results among others in substantial financial and energy savings regarding the production of fresh water from desalination. The management measures for water loss reduction at the consumer sides led over the last years to a substantial reduction in leakages; saving estimated 3 million m3 of desalinated water per year.
The Bahraini water utility EWA applies a mix of technical and policy measures to reduce the number of leakages as well as leakage rates, including application of a specially designed software to monitor exceptionally high consumption rates, measures to correct over-sized connection sizes for consumers based on estimated needs. EWA also introduced standardised procedures, qualifications and regulations for plumbing and engages in public awareness and education campaigns for water conservation.
Of course the EWA has an own interest in reducing losses also at the consumer sides; the existing water tariff system in Bahrain is highly subsidised and the consumers pay only about 20 % of the actual cost of water production and provision. Hence, about 80 % of the costs related to inefficiencies or leakages have to be financed by the public utility.
To encourage further water conservation, ESCWA’s Regional Advisor suggests among other initiatives to review and revise the current water tariff system taking into account the various socio-economic needs of the people. This shall create further incentives to save not only limited fresh water resources but to also reduce costly investments into new desalination plants, networks and treatment facilities as well as for the energy needs to produce desalinated water, distribute it and later on treat the effluent sewage.
The ESCWA Regional Advisor commends the achievements made in Bahrain in the technical and policy field and recommends such demand management measures to be replicated also in other cities in the region.
Furthermore initial discussions were held also with the Ministry of Housing to improve existing guidelines for water conservation in new housing projects. It is planned to continue the support With some specific advise on water conservation measures for future housing projects.
During the mission and upon invitation of the Arabian Gulf University (AGU) the ESCWA Regional Advisor gave an open lecture to university staff, students and other water interested people in Bahrain entitled “Groundwater and Water Management Issues in the Middle East”.