By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: Kuwaiti Environment Protection Society (KEPS) denounced environmental abuses and failure to maintain environmental discipline during the national holidays by some people. KEPS Chairman Wijdan Al-Oqab stressed in a press statement that disciplined environmental behavior protects the environment and its components, including natural habitats and fungal organisms.
She pointed out that while Kuwait is below the water poverty level, many people during the national celebrations wasted a large amount of water – sufficient for 14,000 housing units for a day, according to a recent report by the ministry of electricity and water. Oqab explained this wastage is linked to many sectors, such as pressure on drainage networks, stressing the need to pay attention to preserving these resources and not wasting them on national holidays.
“Every year during the national holidays, we face a water war on the streets, which only receives widespread criticism without the law being applied on violators. It is worth noting that the law specifies a KD 500 fine for wasting water to wash streets or cars. This can be applied to this wastage, or new laws can be enacted to regulate the celebrations of national holidays,” she said.
Director of Programs and Activities at KEPS Jenan Bahzad said: “Kuwait suffers from water scarcity and faces severe pressure over water consumption. It relies on desalination of seawater to meet the demand for freshwater. Article 2 of the environmental protection law (42 of 2014) states the provisions of the law apply to all public and private entities and individuals. Consumption of freshwater economically based on protecting the environment and not depleting natural resources is one of the basic principles of environmental knowledge. This is because water is the backbone of life and one of the challenges facing the country, especially with the increase in population and urban growth.”
Bahzad indicated the educational system must focus on sufficient awareness of all the difficulties that Kuwait faces in obtaining water, including a lack of freshwater sources and the constant need to purify seawater. “The cost of producing 1,000 gallons of freshwater amounts to about KD 6, of which the citizen pays only 800 fils, while the general budget bears the subsidy of KD 5.2,” she said.
“In Kuwait, per capita consumption is estimated at about 550 liters per day, which is more than double the rate set by the United Nations, estimated at about 220 liters per person,” Bahzad said, adding while Kuwait’s per capita water use is considered one of the highest in the world, around 884 million people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water.
“Work to improve environmental behavior and promote environmental citizenship needs change at the cultural and social level. Also noticeable is the amount of waste generated during the national celebrations, especially plastic waste. Unfortunately, we see that the celebration for just two days will be a huge burden on the environment for years to come,” she said.
“Seawater is polluted for many years with plastic resulting from human waste on the coasts, such as water bottles, celebratory balloons, plastic bags and other consumer waste containing non-biodegradable materials. Balloons are among the most dangerous wastes that can enter the marine environment. Although balloons only take a moment to release, but they can take hundreds of years to degrade,” Bahzad explained. “Over time, these balloon pieces get smaller and smaller and eventually turn into microplastics.
Even biodegradable balloons can take anywhere from six months to four years to decompose. In any case, they harm marine life because they are often swallowed by animals,” she warned. Bahzad said among the manifestations of observed encroachments on the environment in recent times is pollution of seawater with plastic resulting from human waste, camping waste, overgrazing, random movement of cars, heavy military equipment and spring camps.
She pointed out that the according to Kuwait Municipality, about 140 tons of waste were lifted along Arabian Gulf Street, where municipal teams worked on cleaning celebration waste on the coastal strip, starting from the Capital governorate, passing through Hawally and Mubarak Al-Kabeer governorates until Ahmadi Governorate. It was also announced that 2,800 large bags of waste were lifted from Arabian Gulf Street, the public parking lots overlooking it and green areas in just two days.