Transboundary Aquifer Systems - The University of Texas at Austin by zhouwenjuan


									Mining of Transboundary Aquifers
 in the Saudi Arabian Peninsula
            Arthur Ryzak
     University of Texas at Austin
• Objective
   – Describe the current status of groundwater mining in the
     Saudi Arabian Peninsula, as well as the measures being
     taken to minimize future conflict and harm.
• Topics
   –   Transboundary Aquifer Systems
   –   Regional Challenges
   –   Sustainable Solutions
   –   International Cooperation
   –   Conclusions
   –   Readings
   –   Questions for Discussion
       Transboundary Aquifer Systems

• Aquifer - A permeable water bearing geological
  formation underlain by a less permeable layer and the
  water contained in the saturated zone of the formation
• Transboundary aquifer” or “transboundary aquifer
  system” means, respectively, an aquifer or aquifer
  system, parts of which are situated in different States
• Groundwater Mining - Extraction of groundwater from
  an aquifer having predominantly non-renewable
  resources with depletion of aquifer reserves

                                                       Source: UN (2009)
Transboundary Aquifer Systems


                                Source: UNESCO-IHP (2006)
Transboundary Aquifer Systems

                                Source: UNESCO-IHP (2009)
Transboundary Aquifer Systems

             RelativeWater Withdrawal
             Yemen = 176 m^3/c/yr
             S.A. = 979 m^3/c/yr

                                        Source: MAW (1984)
Regional Challenges

        RelativeWater Withdrawal
        Yemen = 176 m^3/c/yr
        S.A. = 979 m^3/c/yr

                                   Source: (2012)
Regional Challenges

Very Little Groundwater Recharge
Regional Challenges

   Very Little Precipitation
Regional Challenges

  Very Little Overland Flow
 Regional Challenges

50 Miles Southeast of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
     Regional Challenges
Water Usage and Demand in the Arabian Peninsula
              Regional Challenges

• Groundwater mining is unsustainable
  – Renewable supply does not meet current
    consumption demands
  – Population doubling time = 20yrs
• Groundwater mining has been considered
  – Agricultural self-sufficiency and food security
  – Renewable sources inadequate for agriculture
• Sana’a Water Crisis
  – Potential of 2 million “water refugees”
                 Sustainable Solutions
•   Reduce consumption
    –   Agricultural policies and practices
    –   Municipal management
•   Increase supply
    –   Desalination and wastewater reuse
    –   Develop renewable resources
    –   Piping projects                             Source:

•   Decrease effected population
    –   Relocation to areas with better resources

•   All these measures benefit from cooperation between
               International Cooperation
•   Stakeholder Meetings
    –   Arab Water Council
    –   United Nations
        •   UN-ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission of Wester Asia)
        •   UN-ISARM (International Shared Aquifer Resources Management Programme)
        •   UN-IGRAC (International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre)

•   Information Sharing, (e.g. Stakeholder Reports, Global Groundwater Information
    System, Global Groundwater Monitoring Network,, Aquastat,
    GRACE, World Water Online)

•   The Law of Transboundary Aquifer Systems Articles Drafted - UN General
    Assembly Resolution A/RES/63/124 (2008)

•   Agreements Developed, (Genovese aquifer, Guarani Aquifer, Nubian Sandstone
    Aquifer System, North Western Sahara Aquifer System)
             International Cooperation
        The Law of Transboundary Aquifer Systems
• Draft Articles - UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/63/124 (2008)
    – Each state has sovereignty over its portion of the aquifer system, according to
      the articles and international law
    – Equitable and reasonable utilization
    – Obligation not to cause significant harm
    – Regular exchange of data and information
    – Aquifer states encouraged to enter into bilateral or regional agreements
      amongst themselves
    – Protection, preservation, and management
    – Technical cooperation with developing states
    – Protected by the rules and principles of international law during times of
      armed conflict
    – No provision on dispute resolution (but see Guarani Agreement)
• To be included as agenda item in 2012, with consideration of final form of
  the articles A/RES/66/104 (2011)

• Stakeholders recognizing the need for

• Major obstacles to adopting and implementing
  regional and basin-level agreements:
  – Direct result of the situation at the national level
    where in most cases the national institutions in
    charge of water resources lack a clear mandate,
    which leads to overlaps and gaps
  – The lack of local/basin institutions
  – Unfavorable political environment

                                                     Source: UN-ESCWA (2009)
•   Abdulrazzak, Mohamed (1997). Freshwater Resources in Arid Lands “The future of freshwater resources in the
    Arabian peninsula”. UNU Global Environmental Forum V Report.
•   MAW (Ministry of Agriculture and Water) (1984). Water Atlas of Saudi Arabia. MAW, Riyadh.
•   UN (2009). General Assembly A/RES/63/124, “The law of Transboundary Aquifers”
•   UN-ESCWA(2009). Expert Group Meeting on Applying IWRM Principles in Managing Shared Water Resources:
    Towards a Regional Vision. Beirut, 1-3 December 2009 E/ESCWA/SDPD/2009/WG.5/1/Report
•   UNESCO-IHP (2009). “Atlas of Transboundary Aquifers” SC-2009/WS/22
•   Foster, S. and Loucks, D.P. (eds.). (2006). Non-renewable groundwater resources: A guidebook on socially-
    sustainable management for water-policy makers. IHP-VI, Series on Groundwater No. 10. UNESCO, Paris.
•   Arab Water Council (2004). State of the Water Report in the Arab Region.
      – ISARM Programme website <>.
                    Questions for Discussion

                         What does this mean to you?

       Into the well from which you drink, do not throw stones

Photo Credit: “Ground Water Mining For Wheat To Be Phased Out In Saudi Arabia”
                 Questions for Discussion

• What opportunities are there for cooperation between states to
  address the water resources challenges of the region?
• In what ways are the draft articles of “The Law of Transboundary
  Aquifers” relevant to the groundwater mining situation of the region?
• How can the obstacles to implementing agreements be overcome?

                        Raoof Al Attar- Iraq, Second Arab Water Forum (2011)

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