Kuwait Times - 16/4/2006
Sources at the Ministry of Energy expect water shortages in the summertime and are already warning residents to reduce their daily consumption. Manager Eng. Muneer Al-Ramadan said that the problem is difficult to resolve and will not be avoided unless citizens and expats cooperate with the state.
Eng. Al-Ramadan recalled last year's problems of water shortage and the weakness in water pumping in some areas and high buildings, which forced the ministry to arrange for the strategic storage of water. He called upon all concerned to remember that Kuwait has very little natural water and therefore must rely on seawater that has been treated to make it suitable for consumption. He argues that Kuwait has one of the highest rates of water consumption anywhere, and this is mainly due to over-consumption and carelessness in the use of water, reported Al-Rai Al-Aam.
Kuwait's hyper-arid climate and few natural water resources require it to rely heavily on desalination and imports for almost all of its fresh water supplies. The country's annual rainfall of about 4.3 inches doesn't even begin to satisfy the 2.4 million residents needs for fresh water. The average person uses about 50 litres of water a day for drinking, cooking, bathing and sanitation.
In 2004, the government began water rationing. Energy Ministry officials said that annual average daily production fell 16 million gallons short of demand. The Energy Ministry projected a water shortfall for 2006 of 53 million gallons. Energy Ministry officials called that Kuwait's per capita water consumption is the highest in the world. It increased from an average of 45.3 gallons (206 litres) in 1979 to 111 gallons (504.6 litres) in 2003.
Till the early part of the twentieth century, the inhabitants of Kuwait exploited the small accumulations of infiltrated rainwater below the surface depressions through shallow dug wells to meet their water needs. As the population expanded, the need for additional supply of water was felt. Beginning in 1925, fresh water from Shatt-Al-Arab in Iraq began to be brought in dhows (boats) using barrels. In 1939, a company was established to run a fleet of water carriers from Shatt-Al-Arab. By 1946, the company had 45 carries from in its fleet with a continuous water transport rate of about 363,500 litres per day.
Growing demand is not being met by growing supplies. A structured programme to update and maintain water supply stations is required, said Al-Ramadan, along with a reduction in water consumption and an increase in the price of water supplied from desalination units.