Abu Dhabi unveils world’s largest desal reserve

By Divi S.

ABU DHABI 20 January 2018: Abu Dhabi has unveiled the world’s largest reserve of high quality desalinated water, accessible by a network of 315 recovery wells lying up to 80 metres below the Liwa Desert.

The wells are fed by one of the UAE’s longest water pipeline networks which will take the water from the Shuweihat desalination plant, in the far west of Abu Dhabi, to the area of the underground reserve, at a rate of 7 million imperial gallons – approx. 32,000 m3 – per day over 27 months.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit which opened earlier at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, said Wam.

The reserve is being kept in a natural freshwater underground aquifer, accessed by an injection and recovery system comprised of the 315 wells. The aquifer was first investigated in 2002 and has been extensively researched by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD.

The project was undertaken as a collaborative venture between EAD, which undertook the scientific studies, feasibility studies and risk and mitigation scenarios as well as strategic planning, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, Adwea, and its Transco subsidiary, which managed the construction and on-the-ground implementation.


Dr. Saif Saleh Al Seairi, Adwea’s Acting Director-General unveiled the project.

“The reserve acts as a safety net for the provision of water and is now being regarded as an excellent regional model for foresight and planning,” Al Seairi said.

“We applaud the efforts of the team that worked hard in some of the harshest desert conditions and in an environment of a constantly undulating landscape. The project team overcame considerable challenges to complete this one-of-a-kind scheme and lessons learned have been shared with our regional partners.”

“The entire project is testament to the power of multi-stakeholder collaboration, and an exemplary case study in inter-governmental cooperation driven by environmental pillars guiding sustainable economic imperatives,” Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD, said.

The project makes a major contribution to the security of Abu Dhabi’s water supplies through the recharging of depleted groundwater aquifers with high-quality desalinated water. Such water cannot be stored above ground due to contamination and other factors.