The most important environmental concern for the State of Qatar is protecting its most scarce resource – water. The country has one of the highest per capita water consumption rates in the world. However, production does not keep pace with the increasing demand for water. The Qatar Government is working on enacting a National Water Act to be tabled in 2016 that will replace the fragmented patchwork of laws with a comprehensive national strategy for water use and regulation. Priorities are to fix the unusually high amount of water consumption and leak across the network and will also prompt water conservation.
Qatar has among the lowest levels of annual rainfall in the world. The three sources of the country's water are:
Seawater is the most important source of water for the people of Qatar, accounting for about half of the water used. Water is desalinated though a costly and energy-intensive thermal process. Production of desalinated water has quadrupled during the last two decades, a trend that is expected to continue. A new water station will further increase capacity.
Qatar's three main desalination plants are:
The groundwater supplies are also critical to Qatar's water network. These sources are recharged through the country's meager rainfall and water flows from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The amount of groundwater being extracted is outpacing the amount flowing in. The primary challenge is to improve the use of water for irrigation on farms due to water loss and the threat to the quality of the groundwater.
Recycled water, or treated sewage effluent, is the only water source that is in surplus. This water is primarily used in irrigation, but can play a more significant role especially for industrial use. Qatar treats and reuses 24% of total freshwater supplies, which is above average among the Gulf Cooperation Council States. Presently, the country lacks the infrastructure to deliver recycled water to every potential user.
Water use is a key component of Qatar's National Development Strategy 2011-2016. The National Water Act will grow out of the strategy to replace the existing fragmented rules and laws, bringing together a comprehensive water policy. It will focus on quality standards for domestic, agricultural and industrial uses for water.
In compliance with the mandates assigned by the Qatar Government, Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation "KAHRAMAA" issues its annual report that can be checked via the Corporation website. Within the same context, the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics issues an annual report on Water Statistics, comprising a lot of points, including water use and quality.