According to experts, half of the per-capita water consumption in the UAE could be a result of residents’ insistence on having lawned gardens.

To keep grass healthy in desert environments requires 1,600 litres of water each year for every square metre, which equates to enough water used on one square metre of grass to give someone a daily shower a month, according to National Geographic.

However, some indigenous species of plant can consume less than half the water of grass while maintaining a lush, green look, according to Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Committee.

“The water consumption in the UAE is so high because it takes into account both indoor and outdoor use,” said Dr Mohammed Dawood, manager of natural resources policy at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

“Actually, in flats the consumption is on par with worldwide standards, it is in villas where you see higher use because of outdoor consumption.”

He said that the first step in reducing consumption is being aware of water usage. As prices currently do not reflect the resource’s scarcity, residents are under the impression that water can be used with disregard.

“We published a report where the UAE has the third-highest water consumption in the world. Look around you, we are in a desert, so these things really don’t add up,” said Tanzeed Alam, the climate and energy director at the Emirates Wildlife Society.

When it comes to watering gardens or the general use of the resource, he said, the UAE has been working on and still has opportunities to develop a mixture of approaches to reduce water consumption, including financial incentives for consuming less and consumer awareness. (The National)