In the 2016 Top Markets Study (TMS), conducted by the U.S. International Trade Administration, Saudi Arabia ranks 6th for overall environmental technologies and it also ranks 5th in the global wastewater treatment market. This highlights the importance of water and wastewater technology in Saudi Arabia’s hot and dry climate. Its 10th Development Plan (2015- 2019) listed various environmental protection goals, which includes the various challenges in protecting the country’s water resources.
Oases in the Saudi Arabian desert
In Saudi Arabia, water resources are regulated by the Ministry of Water and Electricity and National Water Company (NWC). The NWC was created to manage water tenders for water infrastructure development. The NWC is currently a government-owned entity but is designed to evolve into a private sector holding company as the Saudi water sector becomes privatized.
According to the NWC’s plans, approximately USD 66.4 billion will be invested in new water infrastructure and related services between 2012 and 2020. Out of this amount, USD 30 billion will be directed towards capital expenditures. Recently, the government decided to restructure the water tariffs, which have been among the lowest in the world. The impact of declining oil prices and years of wasteful overuse motivated the government to increase industrial and commercial water tariffs by 125 percent.
Wastewater treatment plant in Saudi Arabia
The demand for water services in Saudi Arabia is high as urbanization and population growth increases. The NWC is expected to invest USD 12.8 billion in capital expenditures and USD 17.9 billion in operations expenditures in wastewater treatment and distribution between 2012 and 2020. The NWC privatization scheme will transfer management to private companies to ameliorate the problem of non-revenue water. This will be achieved by investing in water treatment technologies such as smart metering and leak detection technologies. In addition, there is also an emphasis on improving the sewer system and creating separate systems for storm water management. Approximately 40 percent of the Saudi Arabia utilizes combined sewers which has exacerbated flooding in recent years. Similarly, investments in such water treatment technologies will be the focus in the near future.
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