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March 5, 2013

QGBC on Water

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Experts, academics and professionals devoted to environmental sustainability gathered recently to discuss innovative solutions for water conservation, recycling, and reuse in Qatar.

Qatar’s limited access to freshwater reserves, a region-wide issue, coupled with rates of water consumption that far outstrip those of other developed countries like the US and UK, has created an urgent need for sustainable water management practices –an issue championed by the Qatar Green Building Council through its Water Interest Group.

The event, held on 20 February 2013 at the Wyndham Grand Regency Hotel in Doha, was the group’s most recent effort to improve regional perceptions and behaviors regarding water usage.

Adam Smith, Business Development Manager of Polypipe Gulf, was one of three keynote speakers who explained tactics for implementing more sustainable water management practices in Qatar. “We have to look at managing our water better within the environment we have been given. It’s about using water more sustainably, rather than throwing it back down the drain,” he said.

One such example he outlined was to capture free water from air conditioning units. By storing leftover condensation, hundreds of liters of clean water can be produced.

Mr Guilhem Joly, HSE Manager at Degremont Marubeni JV, detailed the little-known existence of a natural lagoon near the Doha West Sewage Treatment Plant. It has become a haven for birds and local flora that thrive on the constant flow of water produced by the facility.

Subjects under deliberation included the introduction of foreign plant and animal species into the nation’s environment, effects of desertification, and environmental costs of desalination.

Dr Renee Richer, professor in biology at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, took a strong stance on the preservation of native species, in opposition to other panelists in favor of introducing new, exotic species to Qatar.

“I am not saying we can’t have a lush green city, but we can do that while we promote local biodiversity and local species. This is all a part of sustainable development,” commented Dr Richer, highlighting a number of native species that produce colorful blooms or edible fruit, including the common caper plant (known locally as shafallah) and the country’s iconic Sidra tree.