The Saudi government has undertaken SR 20 billion worth of water projects as part of its ambitious plan to ensure a sustainable future water supply in different regions of the Kingdom.
Loay A. Saad Al-Mussalam, National Water Company chief executive, said in Riyadh yesterday: "The National Water Company (NWC), a state-owned utility, is implementing these water and sanitation projects, while it is also gearing itself to start working on other small and big projects within the framework of the plan in different parts of the country.
"The NWC is implementing these projects in a number of cities and towns across the Kingdom."
He pointed out the projects would go a long way in solving water problems in different regions.
The projects include the establishment of water tanks, pipelines, pumping stations and wells as well as water treatment in several cities including Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, and Taif.
The announcement to invest SR 20 billion in water projects coincided with the signing of SR 417 million worth of water and sanitation projects in Riyadh yesterday.
Minister of Water and Electricity Abdullah Al-Hussayen signed a number of contracts with contractors to implement several water projects in various parts of the Kingdom following royal directives given by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
Al-Mussalam added: "The signing of the new contracts come within the framework of the government's plan to provide all necessary utility services to citizens across the country."
Projects in the water sector are the priority for the Saudi government and all related government agencies given the ongoing urbanization in the country.
This is in addition to rapid population growth in cities and governorates of the Kingdom.
Al-Musallam said the NWC was currently executing a number of strategic projects at a cumulative value of SR 6 billion in the capital alone.
These projects, once completed, will ensure the efficient distribution of water in Riyadh including establishment of water reservoirs.
The projects include building the main supply lines, sub-network sewage systems and household connections around the city.
The allocation for Jeddah is SR 9 billion out of the SR 20 billion, said the NWC chief, adding the projects in Jeddah include building household supply lines and sewage connections.
He pointed out that Jeddah will have the fourth largest pumping station of the world to be set up at a cost of about SR 1 billion.
The station will be operational in September this year, said Al-Musallam.
He said the water projects being implemented in Taif are worth SR 2.5 billion.
In Makkah, Al-Musallam said, the company is implementing a number of important projects at a cost of more than SR 2.6 billion.
One of the major projects in Makkah involves the expansion of sewage treatment plants, which alone costs SR 945 million. He, however, called on the people to cooperate with government agencies and conserve water resources. He added: "There is a need for a public-private partnership, which can eventually help to cut costs and save water resources that are depleting fast."
The NWC recently documented 400,000 cases when drinking water were wasted either because of leaks or used for simply washing the outer paving of the house.
The NWC report said drinking water was being widely misused for washing cars and watering gardens, lawns and plants at houses or large compounds despite the fact Saudi Arabia faces severe water problems.
The Kingdom is developing effective planning and regulatory systems as well as other institutions to address water-related problems.
It has also spearheaded several conservation campaigns and programs recently.
However, an effective water-management system has become a high priority are in its policy making.
With the population expected to grow at a rapid rate, the per capita availability of water needs to be further taken into account.
This scenario has created lots of opportunities for the development of water and wastewater treatment, and distribution and sewage collection networks in the region.