ABU DHABI: The Ministerial Service Council has banned the export of groundwater due to a decline in its levels in the country.
The ban was taken at the council's meeting chaired by Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The move came upon a recommendation from the Federal National Council (FNC) following a study carried out by the Ministry of Environment and Water.
The study shows a decline in underground water and the depletion of water resources as a result of exports.
The council also discussed a number of other issues, including a proposal on waste treatment and management in Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.
The proposal was based on a study of the waste disposal and the best scientific mechanism for recycling waste into useful material.
The council assigned the Ministry of Environment and Water to propose necessary legislative framework to introduce regulations that will ensure environmental protection and waste management as per best international practices.
The council also discussed a study submitted by the Ministry of Economy on the effects of free trade agreements on the national economy, after the country signed several such agreements. The study also contained proposals to ensure the maximum benefit from joining these agreements as well as the minimum expenses caused by them.
The meeting also reviewed the mechanism for activating the consumer protection laws.
Last year, General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, called for placing the issue of water scarcity at the top of the UAE's national agenda.
He recently said water is more important than oil in the UAE. This is a bold and clear signal that an economy based on oil is placing water at the top of its priorities.
He also said that we need to increase studies and research in the field, create action plans, and find solutions to preserving this invaluable resource for future generations.
The UAE's groundwater is fast depleting due to prolonged drought. About 80,000 wells including 13,000 in Abu Dhabi and 12,000 in Sharjah risk drying up or turning saline.