Abu Dhabi's environmental agency meeting with farmers to protect groundwater

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) said Wednesday it is using the Liwa Date Festival as an opportunity to hold forums with palm farmers about groundwater usage and to provide ways to irrigate more efficiently and sustainably.

The EAD, tasked with protecting and managing biodiversity and promoting sustainable development, estimates 62 percent of the annual demand for water in Abu Dhabi is for groundwater, which is mainly used for agriculture, forestry and landscape irrigation.

EAD aims to reduce forestry groundwater use by 80 percent by 2030 due to deteriorating irrigation water. Forestry groundwater use is diminishing the water's quality and quantity– one of the major challenges being faced by the emirate today.

EAD Secretary General Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak said farmers too must play their part in protecting Abu Dhabi’s groundwater resources, which is why the agency is getting involved with the Liwa Date Festival.

“Without farmers’ support, groundwater depletion will continue to lead to irreversible deterioration of groundwater quality, which in turn, will impact the farmers’ livelihood,” Al Mubarak said. “It is through initiatives like the Majlis at the Liwa Date Festival that we can encourage positive behavioral changes that will conserve and protect this dwindling supply of this precious resource and protect farmers’ means of living.”

While at the festival, EAD is showcasing the Khub Al Dhas orchard as a case study. Khub Al Dhas was able to make its water usage far more efficient with recycled water instead of just on groundwater.

Similar studies suggest palm tree farmers could benefit from adopting such water saving measures, which would go a long way to help the emirate meet environmental goals. EAD currently manages 73 date palm farms in different locations across the emirate.

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Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi

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