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Colorado State University (1992)

Groundwater management strategies for Saudi Arabia

Al-Tokhais, Ali Saad

Titre : Groundwater management strategies for Saudi Arabia

Auteur : Al-Tokhais, Ali Saad

Université de soutenance : Colorado State University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1992

Due to the unlimited support by the government of Saudi Arabia, the agricultural development has jumped dramatically during the last 17 years. The country has reached the self-sufficient position in producing the most needed crops and surpassed it by exporting some products like wheat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. The Saudi Arabian Agricultural Policy has succeeded in achieving its goals which includes : improving the welfare of the rural people, minimizing the country’s dependence on imported food, and minimizing the dependence on oil as a source of revenue by developing a diversified economic base through emphasis on increasing industrial and agricultural production. Wheat is the remarkable commodity grown in the country because of the heavy subsidies. The wheat production increased from 3300 tons in 1978 to about 4 million tons in 1991. Saudi Arabia is the sixth nation in the world in exporting wheat. Groundwater resources are the backbone of the agricultural development. Most of these resources are nonrenewable. The agricultural water demand increased from 2000 Mm$\sp3$ in 1980 to 14600 Mm$\sp3$ in 1990 which comprises about 85 percent of the total water demand. About 1200 Mm$\sp3$ of the water required for agriculture in 1980 and 13500 Mm$\sp3$ in 1991 came from the nonrenewable groundwater resources. Groundwater unfortunately has not been perceived in Saudi Arabia as a finite resource. The country’s fifth development plan (1990-1995) realized evidence of reaching critical levels of groundwater abstraction. Hail and Gassim regions, Central Saudi Arabia are the most noted areas for agricultural development. Saq aquifer is the main groundwater source in these regions. There are hundreds of private small and large scale farms utilizing groundwater through thousands of wells. The wells are capable of irrigating up to 100 hectares each where center pivots are the common irrigation system. A methodology has been developed in this research to help in conserving, controlling, and protecting the nonrenewable groundwater resources in Saudi Arabia. Three groundwater management strategies are proposed to reduce the mining rates of the aquifers, maintain the existing agricultural development, and prolong the life of the groundwater resources. The most important strategy is to reduce the current pumping rates to half. This will assure the continuation of existing development. Increasing the spacing between irrigation wells will reduce the well interferences and minimize the drawdowns. The proper strategy for developing new agricultural farms is to leave adequate spacing between the wells which depends on the location whether in the confined or unconfined part of the aquifer. The best layout of the wells would be to have them in rows parallel to the outcrop of the targeted aquifer.

Mots clés : Applied sciences, Hydrology, Operations research, Earth sciences, Agricultural engineering

Accès au document : Proquest Dissertations & Theses

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