In Bahrain, groundwater in the Dammam aquifer is the only natural source of relatively freshwater to meet the increasing demands for water. Heavy reliance on groundwater, particularly by the agricultural and municipal sectors, and its prolonged overexploitation over the last four decades have led to severe deterioration in its water quality. Currently, most of the original groundwater reservoir has been lost to salinization. In the past, groundwater management efforts were concentrated principally on supply management, where great efforts have been made to develop additional non-conventional and conventional water sources to alleviate groundwater stress, while demand management, conservation and protection of groundwater resources have not received much attention or emphasis. Based on future anticipated management efforts and programs, three alternative policy scenarios are considered in investigating groundwater balance and sustainability in Bahrain for the period 2002–2010: (1) supply augmentation and stabilization of agricultural water demands, (2) supply augmentation and demand management in the agricultural sector and (3) supply augmentation and unrestricted agricultural sector water demands. The current groundwater deficit could be lowered significantly in the second and the first scenarios. Evidently, the second scenario is to be preferred and constitutes an appropriate base for securing sustainable development of groundwater resources. However, it will depend on the effective implementation of the proposed demand management and conservation programs in the agricultural sector with their socio-economic, as well as political constraints and risks.

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