Construction rules have been changed for new mosques and worship places to make them environment-friendly, it has emerged.

This comes as Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf announced that a proposal to recycle wudu (ablution) water for irrigation purposes has been approved.

He said the proposal by the Southern Municipal Council presented last month has been co-ordinated with the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry and the Jaffari and Sunni Waqf Directorates.

Wudu is the Islamic procedure for cleansing parts of the body, a type of ritual purification, or ablution.

Wudu consists of washing the face, arms, then wiping the head and finally washing the feet with water. Wudu is an important part of ritual purity in Islam.

“We have expanded the idea into something much bigger and that’s environment-friendly mosques and worship places,” said Mr Khalaf.

“It is not just ablution water that we want to reuse but also water dripping from air conditioners,” he added.

“New technical construction rules have been introduced which would be initially be implemented on new mosques and worship places being designed; this is much easier than starting to make changes for existing facilities.

“However, this does not mean that changes to existing worship places are not being considered; another study is underway,” said the minister.

He said all consultancy firms and engineers have been informed of the new rules, while the ministry’s construction inspectors have been asked to take into account new details.

“To get a design approved now, it should incorporate recycling equipment, storage tanks and connections, and these will be checked thoroughly during the construction phase.”

Mr Khalaf said small-scale pilot schemes to recycle wudu water are under implementation in two mosques.

“Safiya Kanoo Mosque in Tubli and Ali Kanoo Mosque in Hidd are currently conducting wudu recycling through a filtering process as part of an internal network.”

The wudu water recycling proposal by the Southern Municipal Council’s technical committee chairman Omar Abdulrahman was backed at its presentation last month by Southern Municipality director general Assem Abdullatif who said the government would be interested in considering it.

Mr Abdullatif said the Sustainable Energy Unit was already working on a project to recycle water in schools and government buildings on a trial basis, but could expand the scope to include mosques and worship places.

Mr Abdullatif referred to wudu water as greywater, which means it is not entirely clean but does not need extensive treatment.

Greywater is used water from bathroom sinks, showers, tubs and washing machines. It is not water that has come into contact with faeces, either from the toilet or from washing diapers. Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain household cleaning products.

Mr Abdulrahman said Bahrain has limited natural resources which are being depleted due to high usage, with no plans for replacement or conservation.

Arabian Gulf University water resources management professor Dr Waleed Zubari told the GDN previously that adopting “smart systems” in homes and office buildings can help regulate water consumption, besides reducing expenses on desalination plants and minimise water wastage.

Electricity and Water Affairs Minister Wael Al Mubarak told MPs in February that strategic water reserves in Bahrain fit for human consumption amount to 659 million gallons.

He added that, according to statistics at the end of 2019, the average daily consumption of water was 249 litres per person.

He said the Electricity and Water Authority was working on the second phase expansion of Al Dur Power and Water Plant to increase water productivity to 211 million gallons a day and its water storage capacity to 223 million gallons a day.

This would see the total water storage capacity increase from 635m gallons to 858m gallons in 2024.

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