09 June 2015
PARTIAL RELIEF EXPECTED: Second desalination plant at Ghubra will start trial operations on July 2
MUSCAT: The second desalination plant at Ghubra will start trial operations on July 2 and from September 14 will commence full operations, said Mohammed bin Abdullah al Mahrouqi, Chairman, Public Authority for Water and Electricity (PAEW) yesterday. "This date was fixed following discussions with contractors involved in the project," he said. The water crisis aggravated due to the non-functioning of the second unit at the existing Al Ghubra Water Desalination Plant in July 2014 due to technical reasons.
Al Mahrouqi said the new plant will bring additional 190,000 cubic metres or 242 million gallons of water per day once fully operational and this will go a long way in resolving the ongoing water crisis in Muscat.
Hoping that the worst may be over, he said traditionally demand for water in Oman is at its peak in the months of May and June. "Also with school vacations set to begin in the next few weeks, demand for water may subside with both citizens and residents of Muscat likely to return to their native homes for summer break."
It was revealed that areas most affected by the crisis are Mabela, Seeb, Bausher, Ansab, Al Khuwair, Muttrah, Darsait and Wadi Adai.
To help overcome the crisis free tanker services are available on demand through call centres and coupon systems.
He added that a number of fixed tanks have been installed in Muttrah to supply water 24 hours a day.
"While it is easy to meet the needs of households/villas through tankers, there are several practical problems when it comes to meet the needs of apartments with a large number of flats.
"Many apartments with multiple flats do not have underground reservoirs, which makes supplying to them very difficult. Some buildings even lack appropriate pipes through which water can be pumped to overhead tanks. While we request all existing buildings to make provision for an underground storage, it has been made mandatory for all projects of the future," he said.
Al Mahrouqi said it has been stipulated that water supplied from wells shall not exceed 25 per cent of the total demand. "Currently, around 84,000 cubic metres of water per day are sourced from wells, which will be raised to 24,000 cubic metres to meet the deficit of 127,000 cubic metres per day.
In the last five years, PAEW's water supply has seen a growth of 49 per cent compared to 57 per cent in the number of customers.
The phase 2 of the Barka water plant will start production in phases beginning from August with the final stage in the first quarter of 2016. It will have a capacity to produce 12,000 million gallons of water per day.
A master plan for the water sector until 2040 will focus on expanding the water network system through a specific investment programme and reduce reliance on water tankers, said Saleh bin Nasser al Rumhi, Director-General of Strategic Policies and Studies at PAEW, in a presentation.
It will also focus on the efficiency of operating assets and reduce water losses.
He pointed out that water shortage is estimated at 127,000 cubic metres per day and that almost 15,000 people in the wilayats of Baushar, Muttrah and Muscat were affected.
© Oman Daily Observer 2015