UAE bans bottled water exports
A couple of weeks ago, the UAE banned all exports of groundwater from the country. The ban is aimed at protecting the country's reducing groundwater stocks, clearly a reasonable aim. It has now clarified that this includes bottled waters produced from groundwater sources. This is effective immediately, although the government has given companies six months to comply. I've been looking at this in a bit more detail. The annual bottled water volume exported from the UAE in 2010 was 140 million litres. Not all of this is from groundwater, but let's assume it is for now. I wondered what this meant in terms of the overall groundwater abstraction. There are various sources of information on this including from the Food and Agriculture section at the UN and also from the UAE government. Total groundwater abstraction in 2010 was around 2,000,000 million litres. So, the exports of bottled water are 0.007% of total abstraction. Now, obviously every little bit helps, but I can't help thinking that the virtual water component of some agricultural products which are exported is orders of magnitude higher. I'll have a look at some other industries over the next couple of weeks.