Beirut, 4 November 2010

The Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) announced today the publication of a Water Efficiency Handbook at the organization’s Annual Conference “Arab Environment 2010” being held on 4-5 November at Al Habtoor Grand Conference Center in Beirut. The handbook is intended for use as a reference manual for identifying and prioritizing water efficiency investments in three sectors: buildings, industry, and agriculture. The practical, solution-oriented handbook, which has been tailored to the Arab region, coincides with the release of AFED’s report on Arab Water.

“AFED is proud to make a long-term commitment to disseminating knowledge about efficient water use in the Arab region,” said Najib Saab, Secretary General of AFED. “Public and private sector organizations in Arab countries often lack water efficiency plans. This handbook presents practical methods to develop and implement water efficiency strategies. By making this handbook available, households as well as institutional water consumers will be better informed about opportunities for improving water efficiency. AFED calls upon government and private bodies in the Arab region to make a sustained commitment to preserving water as a limited resource, and to meet the highest possible standards for water efficiency.”

The handbook offers proven methods to cut water consumption, and water costs, by suggesting changes in existing practices and water use behavior in all sectors. It targets water consumption in residential and commercial buildings, industry, and in agriculture. Rather than being exhaustive of all possible water efficiency solutions, the handbook offers a framework for approaching water efficiency opportunities systemically and methodically.

The handbook places significance on the role of the water user in initiating simple behavioral changes to reduce water wastage and in choosing more water efficient process steps and products. Another important dimension to water efficiency emphasized in the handbook is the significance of closing the water cycle through recycle and reuse. The goal is to provide general steps and useful data that can be used by decision makers to develop comprehensive water efficiency programs. “We hope that households and water managers will avail themselves of the handbook,” Saab said.

“A great majority of Arab countries are already experiencing severe water scarcity and half of the people in the region already live under conditions of water stress”, said Tareq Emtairah, co-author of the handbook and a senior researcher at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University, Sweden. “With the projected demand for water rising in all sectors – agriculture, municipal, and industry – and the pressure for prioritizing water allocation building up, new strategies for achieving water security are desperately needed. Nothing is more significant, cost-effective, or demonstrable to generate both water and cost savings than improving water efficiency where a culture of ‘accomplishing more with less water’ becomes a norm in businesses and at homes.”

The handbook contains rough estimates of typical water savings for a number of the suggested efficiency measures. Although the challenges of implementing greater water efficiency may seem overwhelming initially, a good approach is to start with relatively low-cost, simple projects. This handbook does focus on relatively simple and low-cost water efficiency measures. Water reduction tactics in each sector are presented in order from simplest and lowest cost (e.g., process modifications) to more complex and cost-intensive (e.g., equipment replacement).

“Projects to improve water efficiency do not often get approval because of the initial capital expenditures required for retrofits, despite the fact that up-front capital costs for financing water efficiency measures are usually recouped quickly through water savings”, said Murat Mirata, co-author of the handbook and an Associate Professor at Lund University, Sweden. “In fact, the case studies in this handbook demonstrate that investing in water efficiency yields significant cost reductions, while maintaining, or sometimes enhancing, reliability and functionality.”

The content of the Water Efficiency Handbook is laid out in five chapters supplemented with appendices containing case studies and additional resources. Chapter 1 describes the motivation for investing in water efficiency as well as current trends affecting the water sector. Chapter 2 presents a systemic approach for rolling out a water efficiency program. Common approaches to water efficiency in industrial operations are outlined in chapter 3, with a particular focus on water-intensive processes. Chapter 4 highlights some of the key water saving opportunities in both residential and commercial buildings including indoor and domestic use, facility management, and landscaping. Chapter 5 focuses on the main aspects of improving water efficiency in agriculture, including criteria for selecting crops and irrigation methods. Appendix A provides a list of successful regional initiatives and case studies, illustrating their potential water and cost savings as well as the payback on investment. For water users interested in more in-depth analysis, additional resources containing more detailed technical solutions are listed in Appendix B. The references used in the preparation of the handbook are listed in Appendix C.

A review copy in English was made available to media and conference participants. Based on comments collected over the coming few weeks, an Arabic version will be produced in beginning 2011.

The handbook is available at AFED website: