Literature Review on Water Conservation from Qatar’s Households

Literature Review: Water Conservation from Qatar’s Households



Water is a significant commodity that is used for domestic consumption and commercial activities. It is a fundamental component in human beings life and it would be challenging to survive without this basic commodity (Korfiatis, Hovardas, and Pantis 6). Willis, Stewart, Panuwatwanich, and Hollingsworth believe that the increasing population around the world has escalated the demand for water (3). Resultantly, water conservation and sustainable management has become imperative especially to the countries that are exposed to extreme high temperatures. The Qatar Environment Research Institute 2016 report indicates that there has been a considerable effort over the last three decades to provide clean water to the households and industries. However, the rising population has increased the demand for clean water dwarfing the continuous efforts of reliable water networks. This is why the country resulted to water conservation programs and management to ensure water availability around the country.

Carragher, Stewart and Beal argue that approximately 1% of fresh water on earth is available and accessible to human populations through lakes and streams (82). This implies that the demand for water is quite high in comparison with the supply. Qatar is significantly faced with this problem coupled with its annual evaporation rate which is 30 times more than the precipitation rate (Darwish and Rabi 3). Due to the increasing demand for water in Qatar, household water is retained and recycled for use. Qatar uses the most advanced technologies for treating wastewater which is connected from the households and residential area. Basically, the Qatar republic relies almost fully on the conserved and treated water reservoir. Arguably, household water has been associated with a significant threat to the public health according to data recorded by various institutions and in varied countries. In this light, this paper delineates a review of literature to critically evaluate this situation and understand what previous scholars have found regarding household water consumption and how it would affect the water conservation concept in Qatar. Additionally, the study looks at the various concepts and approaches that are used in influencing the consumption behaviors. This is aimed at addressing the problem of high water consumption rate in Qatar.


Qatar has faced a periodic population increase of 1 million people from 2000 to 2010. Qatar is an arid country with high temperatures of above 400C and low rainfall amounting to 82mm with an annual evaporation rate of 2,200mm (Darwish and Rabi 2). The annual per capita (yca) natural water resource was estimated at 71-m3 /yca in 2005, far below the water poverty line of 1,000-m3 /yca ((Kurunthachalam 84). With this problem withstanding, the municipal water consumption per capita per day reached 500 L/ca.d for the year 2013. Darwish and Rabi report that a total of 440 million cubic meters was consumed in 2005 (3). Significantly, water consumption rate is extremely high in Qatar amidst the outlined challenges of natural water sources. Willis, Stewart, Panuwatwanich, and Hollingsworth say that the impending water problems have pushed Qatar into sourcing for artificial water to sustain the demand (84).

According to Darwish and Rabi, the Qatar sewage network covers around 68% of all the Qatar’s buildings and 95% of the buildings found in Doha, capital city (4). One-third of the municipal wastewater (WW) which is collected from the sewer network is treated and recycled. At least 55,000 residents were connected to the sewer network in 2004 and the number has continued to increase over the years. There are two major treatment plants in Doha that recycles 96% of the WW collected from the city’s households, the capacity of all the wastewater treatment (WWT) plants stands at 354,000 m3 /d (Darwish and Rabi 4). The rest is treated by smaller plants that collect water even from the neighboring urban centers. The recycling of the household water has been viewed as an answer to the impending water problems in this Gulf region; however, some scholars question the viability of these programs by citing health problems.

Household water safety question

Health implications

Rhoads, Pruden, and Edwards acknowledge the effort to avail water in the gulf regions using the advanced technology (164). However, they argue that the health related issues were not effectively considered. Similar thoughts have been shared by Rao who says that water conservation is a noble thing but it should be able to protect the citizens and the environment (23). Rao conducts the research in Navi Mumbai where his study argues that the municipality can do more in ensuring water health safety. Health is a basic factor that should be prioritized in the construction or in any other human related activity (Hurst 15). For this reason, Kirschner argues that most of the engineering work failures in water construction are associated with a water-based bacterium known as legionellae (277). Kirschner basis the study in Vienna, Austria; where water conservation culture is predominant. In this connection, Darwish and Rabi believe that 95% of household water is collected in Doha for treatment where the rest is lost through leakage (4). The leakage is a result of system malfunction in the water network (Darwish and Rabi 4). In Kirschner view, such system engineering problems in the water systems leave the water susceptible to pathogens legionellae. This means that the water can be collected for a good cause which is to sustain the demand but can also be vulnerable to health problems. Legionalle cases brought for diagnosis have been traced to water consumption. This water is mainly based on wastewater treatment or residential water that has been recycled (Kirschner 280).

Engineering issues  

Kirschner argument resonates with that of Rhoads, Pruden, and Edwards in their article “Survey of Green Building Water Systems Reveals Elevated Water Age and Water Quality Concerns,” The authors state that the water retention period, the water chemistry, and the industrial design are all contributing factors to health safety of household water. Rhoads, Pruden and Edwards figure it out that household water conservation is done in greenhouses which employ the modern technology and normal traditional conservation systems (165). According to Darwish and Rabi, Qatar mainly uses the modern technology in water conservation which is equitable to the green buildings mentioned in Rhoads, Pruden and Edwards study. Interestingly, the green buildings are more susceptible to pathogens as compared to the traditional conservation systems. Rhoads, Pruden and Edwards found out that opportunistic pathogens were 1-4 times higher in magnitude in greenhouses as compared to other ordinary water conservation system (166). These researchers argued that the designers of the greenhouses did not fathom the occurrence of such a problem in their design. It can be discerned that the health safety threat is associated with the engineering issues. These findings are in agreement with Kirschner study that categorically associates a bacterium by the name legionellae (282).

Rhoads, Pruden and Edwards also find it palatable to establish the residual factor in the water treatment systems (168). Basically, treatment water is collected from households and it has significant solvents. They are harmful and unhealthy for both direct and indirect consumption. As a result, Qatar has two major recycling plants that are endowed with the responsibility of cleansing the water (Darwish and Rabi 3). One of the major elements used in this cleansing is known as chlorine which is responsible for the treatment and maintenance of water purity. According to Rhoads, Pruden and Edwards, when high amount of chlorine is used in maintaining the water purity, there are higher chances that it will leave some residues (168). This is attributed to the distinct temperature profiles and conditions that favor the growth of OPPP in the green buildings (Rhoads, Pruden and Edwards 170). The chlorine residual in the water pose great threats to the public health after consuming the treated water. Rhoads, Pruden and Edwards argue that the construction and the design of modern water management system did not adequately consider the health implications.

Water residuals      

Herrero and Thiel also mention an interesting factor of water conservation systems. The water pollutants especially in the rural are range from pesticides, microorganism, metals, and residues of medicines. These pollutants are toxic and harmful to human health. According to Herrero and Thiel, most of the water resources are affected the presence of different substances used in agriculture as well as seepage from septic tanks and waste lots (2). The extra nutrients that flow into the surface waters can lead to eutrophication and consequent algae bloom. These pollutants are considered during the disinfection process to achieve water purity. However, Herrero and Thiel questions on the purity based on residual medicine in water systems (3). Most of the households drain their medicinal residual through the drainage systems which means that the collected water is considerably affected. Chlorinification is not sufficient in achieving water purity as it cannot adequately remove the medicinal factor found in the water (Herrero and Thiel 4). Based on the above outlined literal sources, there is a great doubt on the health safety of water collected from the households with some calling for a greater attention to this topic.

Conservation behavior

The conservation of water is sequential and follows a due process since it begins from the end-use consumption to the minute the water is availed back again to the consumer. It is quite unfair to leave out the household consumption pattern in the discussion regarding water management. Willis, Stewart, Panuwatwanich, Williams, and Hollingsworth argue that understanding the link between environment and water conservation attitude as observed in the end use water consumption is significant in water demand management (1996). Carragher, Stewart and Beal believe that the growing number of sustainable water management strategies is aimed at motivating people and their water use activities (83). The nation can be dedicated in enhancing water management systems but the consumer conservation behavior is paramount.  Willis et al believe that establishing the motive for saving water is integral when drafting water saving strategies.  Carragher, Stewart and Beal say that the management of water can be achieved through financial and non-financial methods (84). These non-financial methods include awareness and water efficient knowledge as they impact consumption attitude; the attitude towards water conservation is vital as it determines the consumption behavior (Willis, Stewart, Panuwatwanich, Williams, and Hollingsworth 1997).

Accordingly, Willis, Stewart, Panuwatwanich, Williams, and Hollingsworth assert that the general environmental beliefs can be essential in influencing consumption behavior (1997). The consciousness towards the environment issues is a reliable predictor of environment behavior (Willis, Stewart, Panuwatwanich, Williams, and Hollingsworth 1997). Environmental sustainability is a global concern and a factor that has been putted into consideration by various countries in the globe. As mentioned earlier, the total available water for consumption in the earth’s surface is approximately 1%. This is relatively insignificant in comparison to the total worlds demand. In this connection, Darwish and Rabi reported that a total of 440 million cubic meters was consumed in Qatar in 2005 which was approximately ten years ago (3). Arguably, the demand has doubled in Qatar only in comparison to the available natural water sources. Using the non-financial approach developed by Carragher, Stewart and Beal, it is easier to make the public environmental conscious. Understanding the impact of their water consumption behavior can be effective in enhancing water conservation.

The awareness involves the understanding of the efficiency opportunities and the impacts of water saving activities. Awareness motivates the desire to continually reduce the consumption and create a determination of efficiency.  Willis, Stewart, Panuwatwanich, Williams, and Hollingsworth find a correlation between knowing or having the knowledge on how to conserve water and whether this translated into actual behavior (2000). The ideology behind awareness is that it creates (84). Carragher, Stewart and Beal argue that it is palatable to explain how to read the meter and to control the consumption behavior. Another method that can be used is by controlling and monitoring the water consumption by the user. This can be achieved by issuance of water consumption record entry. The consumer can record the number of times they visit the shower, toilet, used for drinking and so on. This data will help the consumer to monitor his or her behavior for the consumption purpose.

In this light, Malik, Panuwatwanich, Stewart and Beal monitored the determinants of shower water end use consumption in Australia households. The authors acknowledge that showering is the highest indoor consumption category and monitoring the volumes and frequency can largely influence the consumption behavior. According to the findings of Malik, Panuwatwanich, Stewart and Beal study, showering consumes a lot of household water as it is considered a leisure activity. Reducing the over-head showering can potentially reduce the water consumption behavior. These study findings can assist water businesses and government policy officers 910 responsible with designing better targeted water conservation strategies and policies 911 addressing shower end use.


This review of literature has expressively shown that there is a significant water crisis in Qatar. The increased urbanization and development of infrastructure is increasing the demand for industrial water. The country has also invested heavily in agriculture which is extensively dependent on irrigation. Population increase on the other hand is pressing on the demand for domestic water. With this significant need for water as compared to the availability of natural water sources, Qatar has turned her attention to alternative water sources. Treating waste water is leading in the list of alternative water sources. Unfortunately, scholars are linking the household water with public health threat. Kirschner says that there are organisms that are found in water pipes known as Legionalle which breed as a result of engineering failure in the water conservation system (277). Despite the immense efforts put by Qatar government in installing modern water conservation systems, there are vulnerability of leakages as pointed out by Darwish and Rabi (3). This can be interpretated that the Qatar water system is vulnerable to the spread of Legionalle due to the noticeable system problem.

The study by Rhoads, Pruden and Edwards also insinuates that household water has bee associated with pathogen infections. Similarly, the scholars are worried of the residual chlorine that forms through degradation during the treatment process. The authors argue there is a high propensity of consuming chlorine directly from water collected from household network. Several studies such as Rao and Herrero have also raised a red-flag concerning the health viability of household water.

Willis et al have discussed various ways of ensuring there is a positive water consumption behavior. As aforementioned, Qatar is leading in water consumption around the globe and this behavior could lead to depletion and a huge water crisis in the country. Creating awareness and monitoring water consumption is a palatable behavior that can influence the consumption pattern. There is an urgent need for imparting positive water consumption behaviors in Qatar in order to curb an impending water problem. Lastly, there is a need for an evidence-based research to substantiate the health safety argument regarding household water particularly in Qatar.

Works cited

Carragher, Byron, Stewart, Rodney., Beal, Cara., Quantifying the influence of residential water appliance 2 efficiency on average day diurnal demand patterns at an end use level: A precursor to optimised water service 3 infrastructure planning. Resources Conservation and Recycling (2012).62, 81-90.

Darwish, M. and  Rabi Mohtar. Qatar water challenges. Desalination and Water Treatment.  2012. 1-12

Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division, World Population Prospects, United Nations, 2010.

Makki, Anas A., Stewart, Rodney A. Panuwatwanich, Kriengsak, and Beal Cara. Revealing the Determinants of Shower Water End Use Consumption: Enabling Better Targeted Urban Water Conservation Strategies. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2013. Vol. 60(1): 129–146

Herrero, M and Thiel, I. water interactions with energy, environment, food and agriculture. Water contamination. 2002. Web. October 2016.

Kirschner, Alexander. Determination of viable legionellae in engineered water systems: Do we find what we are looking for? Water Research. 2016.  93, Pages 276–288

Korfiatis, K. J., Hovardas, T. and  Pantis, J. D. Determinants of Environmental Behavior in Societies in Transition: Evidence from five European Countries. Population and Environment, (2004) Vol. 25:6.


Kurunthachalam Senthil Kumar. Water Conservation and Sustainability: An Utmost Importance. Hydrology: Current Research. 2014. Vol. 5(2): e117. doi: 10.4172/2157-7587.1000e117

Rao, Poornima. Water Conservation in Residential Buildings (A Case Study). International Journal of Research in Applied, Natural and Social Sciences (IMPACT: IJRANSS). Vol. 1(4): 23-26

Rhoads, William J., Pruden Amy and Edwards Marc A. Survey of Green Building Water Systems Reveals Elevated Water Age and Water Quality Concerns” Environmental Science: Water & Research Technology. 2016. Vol. 2: 164

Willis, Rachelle, Stewart, Wlliams, Phillips, and Hollingsworth, Anna. Quantifying the influence of environmental and water conservation attitudes on household end use water consumption. Journal of Environmental Management,(2011) 92, pp. 1996-2009

UN-Qatar National Vision 2030, Qatar Second Human Report issued in 2009