Regulatory framework for drinking water, wastewater discharge and reuse
Drinking water quality regulations
Saudi Arabia ranks 13th on the list of the countries with the highest consumption of bottled water per capita. The amount of consumed bottled water increased from around 87 l/c/yr in 2004 to almost 100 l/c/yr in 2009. Per capita public water supply is 286 l/c/d which is around twice the European average. A GWI source at MOWE revealed its goal is to reduce water consumption to less than 260 l/c/d within the next 5 years. In order to achieve this seemingly conservative target the MOWE aims to tackle home use with awareness campaigns and training programs.
Municipal and industrial wastewater quality regulations
Only around 40% of the 2.5 million m³/d of wastewater treated in Saudi Arabia is collected in sewers. In Jeddah, the figure falls to 22% and to 21% in Medina. The remainder is collected in septic tanks that are occasionally emptied and taken by trucks to WWTPs. A significant volume of wastewater from septic tanks is taken to wastewater lagoons or designated areas in deserts were it is disposed of. For instance, Jeddah was until 2010 served by the wastewater lagoon known as the Musk Lake.
Water reuse regulations
In total, about 240,000 m³/d of tertiary treated wastewater is thought to be currently reused in Saudi Arabia. A much larger volume – perhaps around 1.6 million m³/d – is reused informally without tertiary treatment.
Water in industry: Oil and gas industry in Jubail and Yanbu
Saudi Arabia is one of the leading oil producers in the world. The daily production of oil ranges from 8-10 million bbl. The other main industries are closely related to oil – petrochemical, refineries and light/support industries. In 2009, the industrial sector in Saudi Arabia used more than 700 million m³ of water. According to the Ninth Development Plan water demand in industry is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.5% due to expansion at new industrial and economic cities.
Future regulatory scenario and conclusions
The wastewater sector in Saudi Arabia is marked by a lack of infrastructure, low amount of wastewater collected in sewers, inadequate collection facilities and frequent discharges of untreated or poorly treated wastewater into the Red Sea and Gulf. These conditions pose threat to human health, and as experienced in 2009, aggravate natural disasters such as floods.
List of laws, standards and policies