Water on life support
Slim Zekri
Dept. Natural Resource Economics, CAMS, SQU
World Water Day 18 March 2015
Sultan Qaboos University
Sustainability framework
 Weak sustainability: A sustainable state is one in which resources
are managed so as to maintain production opportunities for the
future
1.
2.
3.
sufficient substitutability exists between non-renewable resources
the recourse is extracted efficiently over time, not wastefully
rent derived from non-renewable extraction should be saved and
accumulated entirely in Human Made Capital

Knowledge appears to be a good substitute of non-renewable resources
 Strong sustainability: A sustainable state is one in which resources
are managed so as to maintain a sustainable yield of resource
services
Water in Oman before the event of
Oil




Who financed the water and water infrastructure?
How was the water used?
Was it recycled?
Did the low income families received the same amount of water as
the wealthy families?
 Did they pay the same price?
Source: PAEW, 2013
Current Status of Urban Water in Oman
 +90% of the urban water is desalinated
 Total dependence on non-renewable energy
 No substitute so far
 High subsidies to the water sector
 Muscat Fresh water + WWT services in 2012
 $204 million PER YEAR
 + $ 1166 subsidy per connection
 SQU: 14 Water Researchers
 Less than $½ million budget/year (part of this is from international agencies)
 0.24% of the annual subsidy to water
 0.24% investment on Knowledge Vs 99.76% on consumption
 $204 million from oil rent are misallocated
Not including TTWW subsidy
$363 million
Source: PAEW, 2013
Subsidies and distortions
 Is it appropriate to have part of your income paid in water rather than
Rials?
 What if your monthly salary includes 20 m3 of free water per month?
 Would not you like to have 41.5 Rials instead of the 20 m3 of free water ?
 How much subsidy to the low income vs wealthy?
 Why do you receive 20 m3 of free water per month while the low income
receive only 5 m3 of free water?
 Is it FAIR?
 Subsidies discourage innovation and cost cutting
 Wastewater cost is not decreasing in Oman
 Adoption of better practices
 Investment in R&D is a must at regional scale
 Collaboration with the Private Sector to cut down costs
 What about desalination cost? Is it decreasing?
 At international level the cost of seawater desalination reached a low of $ ½
per m3
 How much is it paid in Oman?
60%
50%
49%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
26%
13%
10%
3%
Targeting Subsidy NOT remove subsidy
 Industrial/commercial/Governmental users should pay the full
cost of water
 Income higher than XX Rials will have to pay the full cost of
water
 What about the low income? What options?
 How we identify the low income households
 How can they access to water without causing a burden on their
modest income?
 Why water\wastewater can be subsidized to the low income?
Pricing According to Efficiency
 Should efficient water users pay the same price as inefficient
users???
 Unfair
 Does not encourage water saving
 A tiered pricing based on economic status and the number of
residents in each household
 Monthly individualized household allocation
 Inefficient water users will be charged a price higher than the
full cost
 Ensuring the water utility budget equilibrium
 Cross subsidy
 Fund to implement water saving programs
Demand, Desalination & GW: 3 R’s
1.
Reduce demand
 Proper Pricing
Water saving Technology
2. Re-use at home before treatment
 Grey water to flush toilets
 Need to re-engineer the home’s pipes water system
 Reconsider totally the flush toilet in light of composting toilet system
innovations: Long term option
 “A properly maintained composting system yields only an odorless, stabilized product,
rich in nutrients and organic matter.” (Shuster, 2012)
 Grey water to garden irrigation
 fresh water ↘ wastewater treatment cost ↘
 Can be easily implemented without
energy uses↘
3. Recycle: Integrated GW-treated wastewater management in
urban and peri-urban areas
 Deliver the TTWW to farmers
 Buy the fresh water from farmers to the cities
Improve aquifer recharge
 Roof water harvesting and recharge through abandoned existing
sceptic tanks after proper disinfection
 Counter the negative effect of urbanization vs recharge
 Improves groundwater capacity to respond during emergency
situations
 Reduces floods
 Reduces urban run-off to the treatment plants
References
 Dinar, A; Ash, T. 2015. Water Budget Rate Structure: Experiences
from Several Urban Utilities in Southern California.
 Shuster, W. D. 2012. On the Matter of Sustainable Water
Management. Chapter 6.
 Zekri, S; Al Harthi, S; Kotagama, H; Bose, S. 2015. Farmer’s
Willingness to Pay for Tertiary Treated Wastewater for irrigation.
Working paper. Dept. NRE
 Zekri, S; Al Harthi, R; Boughanmi, H; Kotagama, H. 2015. Residential
Water Demand Estimation for Muscat. Working paper. Dept. NRE
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Water on life support