||Countries worldwide are facing freshwater challenges in both quantity and quality
in meeting increased water demand. Historically, increasing water supply solved deficit
problems. Today, the situation is different because most of the readily accessible
resources have already been used and the majority of these sources are under pressure.
In the case of the Sultanate of Oman, the accessible water resources have been fully
exploited and development of the more remote sources would require large capital investment.
Non-traditional sources, such as desalination, wastewater reuse, etc., are currently
expensive and of limited capacity. Therefore, water users have become over-reliant
on excessive abstraction of groundwater to meet growing demand. Since the 1970s,
this has led to a year-on-year water deficit, progressive lowering of the water table
and salt-water intrusion into coastal aquifers with adverse and, in some cases, irreversible
damage to the groundwater resource and the environment.
Oman’s current supply-driven approaches for the management of water resources are
no longer sustainable. To prevent the current water deficit in fresh water resources
from worsening, it is necessary to explore a new approach to water management. This
master’s project explores the various options available in the sultanate of Oman under
Water Demand Management (WDM).
Through questionnaires and interviews administered to stakeholders including: water
professionals, municipal and irrigation water users, and expatriate farmers, this
paper concludes that awareness of the water crisis exists amongst all stakeholders
(municipal and agricultural users). Yet a comprehensive master plan to phase various
recommendations must begin with the support of the agricultural sector, currently
the largest consumer of fresh water in Oman. The process must be adaptive with concerns
raised by all players being considered and changes instituted in a phased process.
The results of the research conclude that Water Demand Management is acceptable as
a conservation tool, but requires an equitable method holding all users accountable
for it to be effective.