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Towards Sustainable Water Policy in Kuwait: Reforms of the Current Practices and the Required Investments, Institutional and Legislative Measures

Fadlelmawla, A.
Water resources management 2009 v.23 no.10 pp. 1969-1987
desalination, groundwater, groundwater extraction, groundwater recharge, immigration, natural resources, politics, tariffs, water policy, Kuwait
The water policies of Kuwait are in need of major reforms in order to cope with the ever-increasing demands without burdening the country's economy. As it stands, the simple approach of increasing desalination capacities and groundwater withdrawal to meet the demands is hurting the economy as well as the natural resources, and is bound to lead the country into a serious water crisis. In this context, this paper discusses the potential alternatives to the current water policies of Kuwait. Adopting two of the IWRM Toolbox axis, namely potential impact of the proposed reforms and readiness of the enabling environment (investment/benefits, institutional setup, and regulative requirements), as a basis for discussion and evaluation, this study presents, evaluates and prioritizes a set of what is widely regarded as the main reforms of the current policies in the hope of focusing attention on those that are most effective. Overall, the necessary investments are moderate. In contrast, failure to implement the reforms would cost Kuwait well above $1 billion/year. Institutional changes are expected to be minor, while significant efforts are needed to amend the regulatory setup. Using an arbitrary rating system based on the available evidence, four reforms are recommended for implementation as high priority (mandating water conserving devices, restructuring the water tariff, reallocation of resources, and awareness programs), three reforms are considered medium priority for implementation (penalizing wasteful practices, water auditing and groundwater protection), and two reforms are not recommended (reduction of leakage in the main network and tighter immigration laws). On the other hand, three reforms have a high potential impact but there are too many ambiguities regarding their technical feasibility. These reforms are recommended for further research, two as high priority (alternative desalination technology and artificial recharge using RO water) and one as low priority (artificial recharge using harvested water). Cultural and political issues that are expected to influence the reforms have been briefly discussed.