July 13, 2018

A company from the United Arab Emirates is planning to extract an Iceberg and tow it across the Indian Ocean. Once it reaches its final destination, the coast of Emirates, it will be anchored off the shore and processed gradually to help meet projected drinking water demands. According to Science Alert, the project aims to help stave off a mounting drinking water crisis that is anticipated within the next 15 years. 

While we here at Aquagear are not environmentalists, we certainly care about what kind of impact this could have on the environment as a whole. We can't help but think that this kind of solution to a growing water crisis is short-sighted. In any case, we believe that this story is important to our readers, so we'd like to share with you the facts.

Here are some things that you might want to know about the proposed idea:

Who proposed this plan?

The project was first announced in May 2017 by Abu Dhabi-based firm, the National Advisor Bureau Limited. Sulaiman Al Shehi, the program's director, told the Gulf News that an Iceberg contains "the purest water in the world,” and they have plans to harvest it.

How much water can one of these icebergs provide?

An average iceberg contains more than 20 billion gallons of water. Al Shehi says that this will be enough to support one million people for over five years. Computer simulations have shown that the iceberg will lose roughly 30 percent of its mass during its long journey from Antarctica. 

How long will the iceberg journey's take?

According to Science Alert, it will take one year for the Iceberg to travel from the Antarctic to its final destination of Fujairah on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates. All told the massive piece of ice will travel more than 5,700 miles. 

"An average iceberg contains more than 20 billion gallons of water."

 

How much will this project cost?

The bill is estimated to be between $50-60 million dollars. At this rate, the company can expect to get 400 gallons of water per dollar. 

Why does this region need so much water?

To say that the United Arab Emirates is dry would be an understatement. And with cities like Abu Dhabi growing so quickly over the past two years, the region is on it's way to drying up completely. Two years ago the Associated Press reportedthat with such population growth, the country is on track to deplete all of its available groundwater in less than 15 years. To make matters worse, the United Nations found that UAE residents' water usage is some of the highest in the world -- around 132 gallons per day.

When will the project get underway?

As of now, the plan to move ice from Antarctica to the United Arab Emirates is still being worked out. However, the company has said that a pilot phase will occur sometime in late 2019. In this trial run, an attempt will be made to tow a gargantuan piece of ice to either Australia or the very tip of Africa. The "modest" journey will provide proof of concept for the final, full-length journey to UAE.