riad water chair11.03.2009 - Knowledge transfer in water management for Saudi Arabia

Tags: Water reuse, wastewater treatment, Saudi Arabia, King Saud University

The research organisation ttz Bremerhaven has already gained worldwide experience in the efficient handling of water in various countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America endangered by desertification. Systems for wastewater processing, using for example state-of-the-art membrane-bioreactors, are precisely adapted to local requirements. Dr. Gerhard Schories, Technical Director of the Water, Energy and Land Use Management Department at ttz Bremerhaven, is now introducing this know-how to the Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Chair for Water Research (PKC), King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. The Chair has been established and sponsored by HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan. The aim is to attain national and international leadership in the research realm of advanced wastewater-treatment technologies, and water reuse so as to conserve and develop the Kingdom water resources. The chair is directed by associate professor of environmental Engineering, Dr. Waleed Zahid. 

Bremerhaven, March 2009. When discussing the key factors of a society’s economy, it is rare in the western world that water is the first keyword mentioned. In countries with low rainfall, such as Saudi Arabia with only 100 mm annual precipitation in Riyadh (by comparison: the North German Plain experiences 600mm-800mm annual precipitation), water is far more important. In Saudi Arabia, the desert accounts for considerably more than half the country. In order to satisfy its vision and mission, the PKC has chosen three distinguished international researchers and scholars in the field of water reclamation and resue, to be advisors for the chair, and  involve in its scientific activities and research.  The advisor are Professor Zaini Ujang, the rector of the Technical University of Malaysia; Dr. Bahman Sheikh, an independent consultant from California; and Dr. Gerhard Schories, Technical Director at ttz Bremerhaven.

Water shortage, growing population, increasing urbanisation and rising costs for the exploitation of potable groundwater sources increase the pressure on science and research to produce practical and economic solutions. One way to preserve valuable drinking water resources is more reprocessing of wastewater. The reutilisation of water enriched with nitrogen and phosphor is of particular importance for agricultural purposes, but industrial cooling and cleaning processes can also be rendered more efficient. At present in Saudi Arabia, 1.84 million cubic metres of wastewater are collected and processed daily, but only 0.34 cubic metres of it are reutilised. This corresponds to 18 percent of treated wastewater and 6 percent of drinking water – there is still major potential to tap.

By financing research in King Saud University, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan is endorsing his conviction that applied science can efficiently combat water shortage. The intention is that King Saud University should become a leading centre of competence for such socially and politically pressing questions. In this way, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan is reinforcing his commitment to water availability as the basis for quality of life, which he already actively promotes as Honorary President of the Arab Water Council and of the Saudi Society for Marine Sciences, as well as being the founder of the Khalid Bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.

At its facilities in northern Germany, ttz Bremerhaven implements projects with regional partners which focus on the improvement of water quality. In their most recent projects, environmental engineers are dealing with treatment of municipal wastewater by means of membrane bioreactor technology for water recovery and reuse or the efficient processing of bilge water containing oil contaminations.


Press pictures for editorial use (foto: ttz/pr)

riad water chair


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ttz Bremerhaven is an innovative provider of research services and operates in the field of application-oriented research and development. Under the umbrella of ttz Bremerhaven, an international team of experts are working in the areas of food, environment, health, and consulting.