The common water network that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are planning to construct will cost some $10.5 billion USD, according to Bahraini Minister of Electricity and Water Abdel-Mohsen Ben Ali Merza.
“The project will be implemented in three phases, with the first one costing around $2.7 billion USD,” Merza said following a meeting of GCC water officials in Manama on September 27.
The second phase includes building water pipeline networks and Suhar Treatment Plant in Oman, at a total cost of $4 billion USD, while the $3.8 billion USD third phase will involve constructing Al Ashkharah Treatment Plant, also in Oman, he said.
Heads of GCC countries approved the common network project at their annual summit in May 2012.
They plan to complete it by 2020. The six member countries -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- will work on building desalination plants, with water intakes located mainly on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Water from the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea will also be desalinated.
An recent environmental assessment identified leaked oil in seawater as one of the risks of the project, and consultants are now working to find solutions to the potential problem, according to GCC officials.
The common water network is part of a broader strategy by GCC countries to achieve water security in the region. It is also expected to improve the desalination industry in the GCC by unifying standards and specifications for seawater desalination.
GCC countries get most of their water supply from desalination, and they are responsible for 40 percent of total global desalinated water production.
Some countries in the region currently have a water surplus that they can export to their neighbors. Qatar, for example, has an annual surplus of around 20 to 30 percent of its water production.
This story is brought to readers free in association with Singapore International Water Week.