Saudi Arabia is facing a looming 'catastrophe'

Saudi arabia camels grazing herd desertFlickrCamels graze in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is facing a looming disaster in the next three decades as the country is steadily running through its supply of non-renewable groundwater reserves.

The kingdom’s unsustainable and extravagant use of water is rapidly depleting the country’s reserves and, if not limited, could soon lead to an environmental and social catastrophe, al-Araby reports.

“Saudi Arabia is facing a catastrophe if agricultural practices don’t change. The remaining groundwater needs to be preserved,” Ali al-Takhees, the former undersecretary of the Saudi ministry of agriculture, told Al-Araby.

According to al-Takhees, Saudi Arabia is running through its groundwater at a perilous rate.

Within three decades, if usage patterns do not change, the country is predicted to face a significant drought. However, other predictions for the country are more dire.

Mohammed al-Ghamdi, a member of King Faisal University, told The Independent that ground water in the country could run out in as few as 13 years.

“Official estimates have been disclosed showing an acute drop in water levels in agricultural areas, and that indicates the seriousness of the situation,” Al-Ghamdi said.

In an effort to curb the use of water in the country, The Independent reports that the country has started taxing its citizens for water use. This tariff will have the added benefit of attempting to address the kingdom’s ballooning deficit caused by the collapse of oil prices.

Currently, Saudi residents use significantly more water than residents of comparatively water rich Europe. According to al-Araby, Saudis use more than double the amount of daily water than the EU average.

This extravagant use, in conjunction with rain being incapable of filling anything but the most shallow aquifers in Saudi Arabia, does not bode well for the kingdom if it does not take drastic actions.

Already, The Independent notes, reservoirs in central Saudi Arabia have “turned into sand pits.”

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