Experts, academics and professionals devoted to environmental sustainability gathered recently to discuss innovative solutions for water conservation, recycling, and reuse in Qatar.
Qatar’s limited access to freshwater reserves, a region-wide issue, coupled with rates of water consumption that far outstrip those of other developed countries like the US and UK, has created an urgent need for sustainable water management practices –an issue championed by the Qatar Green Building Council through its Water Interest Group.
This event, held on 20 February at the Wyndham Grand Regency Hotel in Doha, is the group’s most recent effort to improve regional perceptions and behaviours regarding water usage.
Adam Smith, Business Development Manager of Polypipe Gulf, was one of three keynote speakers who explained tactics for implementing more sustainable water management practices in Qatar.
“Managing our water is everyone’s responsibility, not just from the construction sector, especially with water consumption on the increase and fresh water reserves on the decrease,” said Mr Smith.
“We have to look at managing our water better within the environment we have been given. It’s about using water more sustainably, rather than throwing it back down the drain. We are a force for change and we definitely can improve the ways we use water.”
One such example he outlined was to capture free water from air conditioning units. By storing leftover condensation, hundreds of litres of clean water can be produced.
A lively discussion on the risks and costs associated with desalination was also given by Ron Daniel, General Manager of Composium Group. He presented his own cost-efficient and environmentally harmless desalination system, Incrediwell, which could reduce ecological concerns in the Middle East for the future.
“My system, compared to conventional desalination systems, is cheaper. Another aspect of the invention is that it can cool a football stadium or a hotel and effectively reduce the need for cooling by two thirds,” explained Mr Daniel.
Additionally, Mr Guilhem Joly, HSE Manager at Degremont Marubeni JV, detailed the little-known existence of a natural lagoon near the Doha West Sewage Treatment Plant. It has become a haven for birds and local flora that thrive on the constant flow of water produced by the facility.
The presentation led into an interactive debate on Qatar’s future urban ecology, with leading local and international experts discussing how best to utilise the country’s water resources to increase animal and plant life in urban areas. Subjects under deliberation included the introduction of foreign plant and animal species into the nation’s environment, effects of desertification, and environmental costs of desalination.
Dr Renee Richer, professor in biology at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, took a strong stance on the preservation of native species, in opposition to other panellists in favour of introducing new, exotic species to Qatar.
“I am not saying we can’t have a lush green city, but we can do that while we promote local biodiversity and local species. This is all a part of sustainable development,” commented Dr Richer, highlighting a number of native species that produce colourful blooms or edible fruit, including the common caper plant (known locally as shafallah) and the country’s iconic sidra tree.
Reflecting on the event and the topics at hand, QGBC Director Meshal Al-Shamari commented, “By partnering local expertise with international perspectives, we aim to identify the best means for Qatar to manage its water resources sustainably and green the built environment. Today’s event was certainly a step in that direction, and we hope to continue this critical discussion over the coming months.”