Nama Water initiates treated effluent network in Ash-Shakhakhit Region, Barka

Business Saturday 10/February/2024 17:13 PM
By: Times News Service
Nama Water initiates treated effluent network in Ash-Shakhakhit Region, Barka

Muscat: In a concerted effort to promote sustainable water management practices and bolster agricultural sustainability, Nama Water Services has embarked on an ambitious project to establish a treated effluent network in the Ash-Shakhakhit region of Barka, Oman.

Aligned with Oman's strategic vision to mitigate groundwater depletion and enhance environmental sanitation, Nama Water Services aims to implement international best practices for wastewater treatment and reuse. The utilisation of treated effluent water for crop irrigation not only conserves groundwater resources but also fosters the expansion of green areas and contributes to food security.

Abdulkarim bin Mohammed bin Zahir Al Hinai, Senior Operation and Maintenance Manager at Nama Water Services, underscored the significance of the project in preserving groundwater reserves and augmenting agricultural productivity. Collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries Wealth & Water Resources, the initiative reflects Nama's commitment to utilizing treated water for irrigation purposes.

"At a total cost of OMR2.3 million and an execution timeframe of one full year, the project, which has been assigned to Al-Matar Group Company, entails more than 40 km of pipelines with diameters ranging from 63mm to 500mm to supply treated effluent water to around 60 farms in the initial phase. 54 applications have been made so far to connect farms with treated effluent water," Al Hinai added.

He elaborated, "We have plans for expanding the treated water network to cover the entire area stretching from Sultan Qaboos Street towards Al-Batinah North Governorate and to accommodate the area located along Al-Batinah Highway Street on the opposite side. The plan is designed to ensure connecting more than 200 farms, in line with the project's objective of increasing the number of farms utilising the treated water, and also reflecting on the keenness of the Ministry to achieve the objectives of Oman Vision 2040 by increasing the agricultural areas and promoting the food security in the Sultanate of Oman."

Al Hinai has also explained, "The project is supervised by a joint committee comprising Nama Water Services and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries Wealth & Water Resources. Nama Water Services oversees the execution of the project through the establishment of the network and connection of the treated effluent water, noting that the utilization of the treated water will be free of charge for the first year and the connection application will be processed for a nominal fee. Moreover, the Ministry is working to promote awareness among farmers of the importance of utilising treated water, and soil testing before and after connecting the water besides its role of spreading knowledge of the crops that can be irrigated by treated effluent water. The focus will be placed on the fruitful crops, except the leaf ones.  
He has also pointed out, "There are future water treatment projects, including an agreement which has been already made with the Al-Amerat plant to supply treated water to a neighbouring agricultural area. The company has been also considering linking the Barka plant with the line heading to Al-Seeb with a possibility of connecting treated effluent water to Al-Seeb farms besides the connection from the Barka plant to the Agriculture Research Center in Barka.

A fundamental project
Several farmers benefiting from the project expressed their pleasure in delivering treated water to their farms. They highlighted that the project would contribute to bringing some abandoned farms to life again after being unsuitable for farming; due to the soil salinity; resulting from water salinisation. It holds promise for increasing crop productivity and therefore promoting food security in the Sultanate of Oman.

Sultan bin Rashid AlKalbani, a farm owner benefitting from this vital project, expressed his appreciation to the government, represented by Nama Water Services, for developing this network to support farmers by supplying treated effluent water to their farms. Al Kalbani explained, "The project will promote cultivation of fruits and vegetables to cover the needs of local markets and contribute to food security."

"The project assumes particular importance in this area, where most farms have recently been affected by soil salinity, making farms unsuitable for cultivation. This has led farmers to be reluctant, abandon their farms, and consider converting them to other uses, including residential and industrial purposes; due to the lack of irrigation water and high freshwater prices," Al Kalbani stated.

He further pointed out, "Implementation of this project will set the farms again on the right track as it will bring them to life and stimulate their production cycle. This has also been manifested by the high turnout of farmers for connecting their farms with treated effluent water. It inspires optimism for extending green areas, maximising production and diversification of crops. It will also help to raise the farmers' income and positively reflect on their quality of life. Consumers would also benefit from this project through crop affordability and accessibility."

Explaining the high turnout of farmers to utilise the effluent water, Hamoud bin Saif AlRaqadi, a farm owner, has stressed that the high demand from farmers for the use of treated water is attributed to the shortage and salinity of groundwater. Both Ash-Shakhakhit South and Abu Al Nakheel South regions are renowned for many farms with a variety of crops. However, most farms have been deserted due to salinisation. Only a few farmers managed to keep parts of their lands; given the expenses of the water desalination. The newly treated effluent water network will mark a new beginning in restoring the farms, expanding the green areas with different yields, and increasing crop and livestock production.  

Al Raqadi further added, "The treated water irrigation project will unquestionably help preserve the region's groundwater reserves, especially with the fact that the treated water is a viable economic alternative for farmers, which greatly helps improve the environmental conditions and minimising the groundwater depletion."