Experts and local stakeholders call for national regulatory body to monitor desalination

Published November 29th, 2009 - 01:28 GMT

Global experts and local stakeholders taking part in the Environment and Water Workshop organised by Dubai Institute of Technology -TechnoPark, the fully-owned subsidiary of Economic Zones World, have called for a national regulatory body under the UAE Federal Government to monitor and regulate the desalination industry and address all related issues.

The workshop, held with the support of the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, Ministry of Energy and the International Desalination Association (IDA), also recommended that desalination management should be brought under the scope of Integrated Water Management in order to ensure long-term sustainability.

The event, held on the sidelines of the IDA World Congress 2009 hosted by TechnoPark, aimed at bringing into sharper focus desalination and its impact on the environment and seeking possibilities to establish a framework for future strategies that can ensure sustainability. 

His Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, UAE Minster of Environment & Water, opened the workshop at the Atlantis on Saturday, November 7. His Excellency Ali Bin Abdullah Al Owais, Managing Director for Electricity Affairs, at the UAE Ministry of Energy, Hamad Al Hashemi, Managing Director, Dubai Institute of Technology – TechnoPark, and Lisa Henthorne, President, International Desalination Association addressed the opening session.

Mohammed Saqr Al Asam, General Manager, Ras Al Khaimah Municipality and former assistant under secretary, Ministry of Environment & Water, moderated the sessions where a line up of national and international experts on desalination, water management and environment presented papers and led interactive discussions.

Divided into five main sessions, the workshop saw 15 papers being presented and discussed by 72 participants representing federal and local governments, academies, institutes, organisations, environment authorities and the private sector.

The session themes were highly focused on areas close to the water and environment sectors, each coming up with clues to solutions for the issues and suggestions for implementation. The subjects covered included Desalination & Environment, Red tide, Alternative Energy in Desalination, Desalination Operations & Monitoring Policies, and Integrated Water Management. The question-answer sessions that followed each presentation supplemented the discussions.

Mohammed Saqr Al Asam said: “The themes of discussion were carefully selected due to their particular relevance to this region today. This workshop gave us an opportunity to engage with the top minds in the industry to find solutions and set a strategic direction for the future. We are very pleased with the overall response from all participants and hope our proposed framework will go a long way in promoting sustainable practices in the desalination industry not just in the country but also the region.”

The panel reached a common agreement towards balanced sustainability based on economic, human and ecological developments. It put forth several other recommendations in addition to a call for a regulatory authority.

The workshop also urged enhancement and improvement of environmental legislation on pollution. The panel called for additional attention to be given to the issue of post-desalination flow of salt into sea and harmful gas emissions. The experts also urged adapting best practices in the desalination industry.

In addition, the workshop recommended setting up of regional level bodies to strengthen co-operation in the field of desalination and in sharing expertise and information because of the similarity of applied desalination technologies, types of feed water, prevailing climatic conditions and environmental impacts of desalination plants.

The workshop stressed the need for the establishment of an efficient monitoring program on a national level in order to assess and test desalination by-products and to minimize public health risks and to protect the mariculture industry.

The workshop also proposed that scientific research be enhanced locally to examine innovative solutions for desalination including reducing environmental problems of the industry and improving energy utilization.

 “The Environment and Water Workshop fulfilled DIT-TechnoPark’s aim of bringing together experts from the sector to address a very critical issue facing the region,” Hamad Al Hashemi, Managing Director, Dubai Institute of Technology – TechnoPark, said while commenting on the event.

“We wanted to present a platform where issues related to the entire spectrum of water management could be discussed and a pointer towards sustainable solutions could be marked. This is part of TechnoPark’s core vision and the workshop succeeded in achieving it. We are thankful to the Ministries for their support and the experts and local stakeholders who responded to our call,” he said.

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