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Reuse of Treated Sewage

Water in the UAE Capital :


Resource Management and
Impact on Food Safety
Mrs. Manal Al-Hashemi
Inorganic Chemistry
Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA)
Abu Dhabi,UAE
THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , UAE
UAE Water Resources
MAIN FEATURES:
„ Arid Climate

„ High summer Temperatures

„ Limited Conventional Water Resources

„ Increasing Demand (agriculture, pop. Growth, urbanization )

„ Heavy dependence on seawater desalination


UAE Water Consumption

„ Third Highest Consumption Worldwide

„ 83% Consumption by Agriculture

„ Increasing demands of Agricultural expansion

„ 341% increase in desalinated water Supply


(1993-2003).
Abu Dhabi Water Resources
Distribution:
Water Resources (Year 2003 Estimates)

4%
17%
0.5%

78.5%

Treated Wastewater Desalinated Water


Fresh Groundwater Brackish Groundwater
Deteriorating Ground Water Resources
Abu Dhabi Water Consumption

Abu Dhabi Water Consumption (2003)

7.0% 15.5%
18.0% 1.5%

58.0%
Domestic Industry / Commerce
Agriculture Forestry
Amenity
Abu Dhabi Waste Treatment

Al Mafraq Wastewater Treatment Works


(MWTW):

„ Over 40% of UAE Production

„ Over 75% of Abu Dhabi Emirate Production

„ Tertiary Treatment (Activated Sludge, Chlorination, Sand Filtration)


MWTW Influent Quality
Parameter MINIMUM MAXIMUM MEAN
Temperature °C
27 35 31
BOD (mg/L)
120 330 207
COD (mg/L)
122 471 245
TSS (mg/L)
18 63 38
Soluble Sulphide
(mg/L)
500 760 623
Conductivity
(µS/cm)
2500 5800 3500
MWTW Treated Effluent Quality
Abu Dhabi Treated Wastewater characteristics

„ Low level of total suspended solids (High


water consumption)

„ High recovery rate of 94% at MWTW :

Average incoming flow : 407,315 m3/day


Average outgoing flow : 383,076 m3/day.
Reuse of Wastewater in
Irrigation (Abu Dhabi Emirate)
„ Over 360,000 ha of cultivated land
(Agriculture, Forestry, Amenities).

„ Cultivated Land consumes over 2700 (Mm³/yr)


of irrigation water (mainly ground water).

„ Wastewater only used for irrigation of around


4000 ha of amenities (parks, gardens, etc) in
Abu Dhabi city and environs.
Reuse of Wastewater in
Irrigation (Abu Dhabi Emirate)

„ MWTW wastewater production: 139.8 Mm3/yr

„ No measurement of efficiency of wastewater reuse


- No measurement of exact Quantities Used or
Efficiency of irrigation methods used
Food Crops Irrigated with
Treated Wastewater (Abu Dhabi)
„ Prohibition of wastewater irrigation for food
crops is the common practice, despite high
effluent quality.

„ Roadside date palm trees distributed among


local amenities are the only food crops
irrigated with treated wastewater
Factors Discouraging Wastewater
Reuse in Food Crop Production

„ Social Factors

„ Food Safety and Health risk assessment

„ Lack of a clear water management policy


Factors Discouraging Wastewater
Reuse in Food Crop Production

Social Factors

„ Public awareness and acceptability of products

„ Misconceptions regarding risk involved

„ Ignorance regarding real but unknown risks


Factors Discouraging Wastewater
Reuse in Food Crop Production

Food Safety & Health Risk Assessment

„ Restricted & Unrestricted Irrigation

„ Risk of Eating Raw Vegetables

„ Risk of Contact with Treated Irrigation Water


Food Safety &
Health Risk Assessment

„ Unrestricted Irrigation: Irrigation of all food


crops, including vegetables and salad crops
eaten raw.

Health Concerns:

„ Consumer Safety
„ Field Staff Safety
Food Safety &
Health Risk Assessment

„RestrictedIrrigation: Irrigation of all crops


except vegetables and salad crops eaten raw.

Prime Health Concern:

„ Field Staff Safety


Food Safety & Health Risk Assessment

Risk of Eating Raw Vegetables


„ Treated Wastewater: For Quality within
1000 faecal coliforms/100 ml (WHO),
Estimated Risk = 10-6 or 0.0001%. *

„ UnTreated Wastewater:

Estimated Risk = 5 – 15 % (Fattal et al., 2004)

„ Abu Dhabi Treated Wastewater: Average


< 50 faecal coliforms/100 ml (Well below
international Safety Margin).
_____________________________________
* USEPA acceptable risk level = 0.01% (10-4)
Consumption of Food in Contact with
Treated Wastewater (Abu Dhabi)
: Imported Vegetables irrigated
with water of unknown Quality
Risk of Contact with
Treated Wastewater

No Risk for Abu Dhabi’s Wastewater !


Food Safety & Health Risk Assessment
Risk of Contact with Treated Irrigation Water
„ Increased Infection Risk: For contact with
sprinkler water containing:
106 faecal coliforms/100 ml

„ No Increased Infection Risk: For contact with


sprinkler water containing:
103 - 104 faecal coliforms/100 ml
(WHO limit to 10 times the limit) [Blumenthal et al., 2002]

„ Abu Dhabi Treated Wastewater: Average


< 50 faecal coliforms/100 ml (Well below
international Safety Margin).
Factors Discouraging Wastewater
Reuse in Food Crop Production

Lack of a Clear Water Management Policy

„ Lack of integrated conservationist resource


management policy.

„ Availability of expensive non-conventional


sources.

„ Water management policy oriented towards


increasing supply rather than controlling
demand.
Advantages of Wastewater
Reuse in Food Crop Irrigation

„ Contribution to the conservation of over-


abstracted underground resources.

„ Environment Protection by reducing


pollution from desalination plants.

„ Environment Protection by providing


substitute to chemical fertilizers.
Advantages of Wastewater
Reuse in Food Crop Irrigation
„ Soil enrichment with nutrients (N, P, K) :
Increased Production
Saving Fertilizer Cost

„ Economic benefit of providing a cheaper


alternative to irrigation with expensive
desalinated water.

„ Protection of agricultural soil by providing a


substitute to irrigation with highly brackish
or saline well water.
Conclusions & Recommendations
Based on existing data gathered
over more than 20 years
regarding the quality of
Abu Dhabi treated wastewater
(under tertiary treatment),
it is safe to say that the reuse of
wastewater in food crop irrigation
is highly recommended and
poses no real risk to food safety .
Conclusions & Recommendations
Reuse of wastewater in food crop irrigation
is highly recommended:

To protect conventional water resources;

To protect & improve the quality of


agricultural soil through valuable nutrients
that increase agricultural production;

To protect the environment by reducing


pollution associated with other water
sources.
Conclusions & Recommendations

To conduct research to assess


the risk involved with the sizeable
imports of raw-eaten fruits and
vegetables of unknown history
which may have been irrigated
with poorly treated wastewater
or even raw sewage.
Conclusions & Recommendations

Frequent monitoring of chemical


and microbiological safety of
imported food crops eaten raw
with special emphasis on
helminthes eggs and other
parasites.
Conclusions & Recommendations

Food control authorities need to


develop highly efficient
parasitological labs.
Conclusions & Recommendations

Imposition of regulations compelling


vegetable exporters to the UAE to
provide certified documents
indicating the type of irrigation water
used and whether or not wastewater
(treated or untreated) was used.
Conclusions & Recommendations

To Manage wastewater reuse


within the framework of a
comprehensive water resource
management strategy.
Conclusions & Recommendations

Competent authorities need to monitor


and measure the efficiency of
irrigation with wastewater with a view
to reduce water demand by improving
the efficiency of irrigation networks ;
adopting more efficient irrigation
methods and maintaining seasonal
water reservoirs at the sewage
treatment plants.
Conclusions & Recommendations

Competent authorities need focus on


managing water demand by re-
planning the development of farmed
areas in terms of quantity and quality
and adopting plans to introduce low-
water consumption plants.
Conclusions & Recommendations

Competent authorities must adopt


means , such as sign posts, to alert
the public using recreational
amenities that the treated wastewater
used for irrigation is not of potable
quality.
Thanks

Date Palm irrigated with Treated Sewage Water


in Abu Dhabi