Qatar’s water challenges reviewed

May 21, 2014 - 3:21:53 am

DOHA: Focused on the pressing issue of water scarcity, Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) yesterday hosted a seminar that brought together public and private organisations to find solutions to water sustainability challenges in the country.

The ‘Water: The Inconvenient Truth’ event at Hamad bin Khalifa University’s Student Centre in Qatar Foundation’s Education City was attended by over 50 sustainability and conservation technology experts. 

QGBC facilitated five roundtable discussions, each  focusing on a different response to addressing water scarcity in Qatar. 

Topics included ‘Policy, Market Conditions’, ‘Education and Public Awareness’, ‘Design and Construction Practices’, and ‘Availability of Information’. 

Research papers will be developed from the information gathered at each roundtable and shared with state and private organisations as well as the public as solutions to Qatar’s water scarcity challenges.

Under the umbrella of QGBC’s Water Interest Group, representatives from Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, Arup, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Kahramaa and Qatari Diar Vinci Construction gathered to rethink Qatar’s water needs, share their organisations’ insights and propose ways to change the region’s perceptions and behaviours towards water. 

Engineer Meshal Al Shamari, QGBC Director, welcomed the participants and highlighted the seminar’s aims and objectives. 

Later, he said, “QGBC is committed to bridging the gap between private sector industry professionals and public sector officials. Our awareness programme includes interactive workshops like this, and offering the public the opportunity to listen, evaluate solutions and take part in conversation with the experts.

“Discussions revealed the interest in this pressing regional challenge and depth of thinking in Qatar around it. QGBC will bring together the outcome of these discussions into papers which will be presented to decisionmakers to assist with development of long-term solutions.” 

Jamila El Mir, Senior Consultant of Environment and Sustainability, Arup, said: “Qatar faces two main challenges in terms of water: The local climate and severe water scarcity we cannot deal with easily, and the government’s ability to absorb all costs of providing sufficient water resulting in Qatar having one of the highest water footprints per capita in the world. 

“All other challenges such as network losses, inefficient building design and operation and excessive irrigation in the public realm are not atypical challenges all around the world. They can be dealt with and are being dealt with in Qatar, one step at a time.” 

El Mir stressed public education and the importance of local solutions when tackling water scarcity in Qatar. 

“Increasing awareness about the importance of water saving at an individual level is key to the process, but will take time,” she explained. 

“Local authorities can further increase the impact of their initiatives by making use of local expertise in the private sector. This is one of the main points: How can the private sector support the government and contribute to optimising water conservation in Qatar?” 

The Peninsula