Water use licensing versus electricity policy reform to stop seawater intrusion

Zekri S.

Groundwater over-abstraction is a major problem in Oman and mainly in the Batinah coastal area where it is accompanied by seawater intrusion. The Government tackled the problem since the beginning of the 1990's and implemented a set of recommendations based on the improvement of irrigation efficiency: the substitution of palm trees by winter only vegetable crops, the use of appropriate tariff structures for non agricultural purposes and the re-use of treated waste water for municipal irrigation. However, fifteen years after the recommendations have been sketched the seawater intrusion in the Batinah aquifers is still advancing at an alarming pace. The current paper analyzes a set of scenarios based on water quotas, electricity pricing and annual electricity quotas. Results showed the cost of damages to the community if no active policy is implemented amount to 70.5 Million Rials. The solution consisting in the implementation of water property rights on tube wells only resulted in a Net Present Value (NPV) of 10 million Rials. Such a solution has the lowest NPV besides to the inequity it produces among farmers. Since water metering in dug wells is not possible then scenarios 3 and 4 consist in analyzing the control of groundwater pumping through energy prices and/or energy quotas instead of the water quota. The results are much better in terms of NPV as well as the equity among farmers. The electricity quota is the best and easiest solution to implement coupled with a complete subsidy removal of electricity price.



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Zekri S. Water use licensing versus electricity policy reform to stop seawater intrusion. In : Lamaddalena N. (ed.), Bogliotti C. (ed.), Todorovic M. (ed.), Scardigno A. (ed.). Water saving in Mediterranean agriculture and future research needs [Vol. 3]. Bari : CIHEAM, 2007. p. 121-132. (Options Méditerranéennes : Série B. Etudes et Recherches; n. 56 Vol.III). Proceedings of the International Conference WASAMED Project (EU contract ICA3-CT-2002-10013), 2007/02/14-17, Valenzano (Italy). http://om.ciheam.org/om/pdf/b56_3/00800209.pdf