10/03/2012 Pollution Load Assessment in Saudi Arabia

In collaboration with the Presidency General of Meteorology and Environmental Protection of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia PME, a project has been launched in March 2012 for assessment of pollution loads in the coastal cities of the Red Sea and its spread in the coastal and marine environment. Treatment and reuse of wastewater would be a prime target in wastewater management. The project has been launched through a national workshop that gathered the different stakeholders including the ministry water and electricity, the ministry of municipal and rural affairs, the ministry agriculture and the national water company. The project stems from several national, regional and international legal obligations, amongst these is the Regional Protocol for Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Pollution Sources that has been signed by all PERSGA member states and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been one of the first countries to endorse the Protocol.

Participants in the workshop confirmed the high importance of the project and expressed their readiness as representatives of their administrations to provide all possible support. The current status of wastewater management has been discussed and efforts of the different authorities in enhancing wastewater treatment and maximizing reuse have been discussed. Representative of the ministry of the water and electricity indicated that the ministry has an ambitious plan to connect not less than 90% of wastewater in the coastal cities in networks and have treated to tertiary level by the year 2015. Water management in Jeddah has significantly improved through the national water company the efficiency of using fresh water and treatment of wastewater.  

The Project will help in assessing the capacity of wastewater treatment plants and their operational efficiency through collecting wastewater samples and treated water samples and verify conformity of the quality of this water with the standards of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The purpose of this step would be to verify that the treatment plants are working according to their design standards and erect faults if they exist. It is common worldwide those operational mistakes in treatment plants may happen.

It has been made clear in the presentations that tertiary treated water will be used directly in industry and in landscaping by the ministry of municipal and rural affairs. But about 50% of this high quality treated water will remain un used. Unfortunately this valuable resource will have to be disposed of in the sea. This it is essential that a national project in which all stakeholders participate takes place to exploit this water encouraging private sector investment in using this water for agriculture.  

From an environmental perspective, the project aims at cutting discharge of treated or untreated waste-water in the coastal environment. But along with this ambitious objective the project also aims at defining a mathematical model to describe the spread and fate of pollutants in the coastal and marine environment. This will not be limited to coastal cities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but will cover all major coastal cities on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden

The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden