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Photo 1: Fishing boats opposites of Sur City, Oman (Source: Werner Langemeyer, Flickr).
Current water use per sector and possible deficits
The demand for indigenous water in Oman comes principally from four sectors. These are:
• Industry, commerce and municipalities (for watering parks, trees and roadside reservations);
• Agriculture (aflaj, farms irrigated from wells and livestock);
• The environment (such as support to the Prosopis cineraria forest in Sharqiyah and for natural vegetation in Dhofar).
Figure 1. Water use precentage by sector.
Agriculture consumes 1,546 MCM/yr (83% of total use), drinking water 196 MCM/yr and industrial consumption is 130 MCM/yr, totalling 1,872 MCM/yr. This represents a deficit of 316 MCM/yr.
Of the agricultural sector total, about two thirds is derived from wells and one third from aflaj. Agricultural returns to water are generally very low and net benefits contribute only marginally to the national economy (<3% of GDP).
Projected water use by 2040
Some estimates say that Oman’s population could almost double in the next 20 years or so. This growth will result in a number of development projects, mainly in the water sector. The sultanate will need 290 MCM of domestic water in 2040, , entailing an additional 377.2 million rials ($981 million) in production costs.
The Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW) seeks to cover 98% of the population by 2040 through integrated systems that ensure constant improvement of services that bring them up to global standards and are customer-centric.
Agricultural water use and irrigation development
Agriculture is the dominant water-using sector, accounting for nearly 83% of total consumption. In many areas, demand for water exceeds availability. Where this situation exists, the demand is met by withdrawals from aquifer storage, with a consequent decline in groundwater levels – and locally, falaj flows.