Qatar’s Aquifer Systems

The case study area covers the entire Qatar Peninsula, with its interconnected aquifer systems. Most of the groundwater pumping for irrigation occurs in the Northern-coastal area, but the harsh climate, the water resources scarcity, the erratic rainfall, unfertile soils, and poor water management put strong pressures on groundwater resources to support domestic food production, which has been boosted in the aftermath of the blockade in 2017. Groundwater systems, already characterized by high salinity, are decreasing in quantity and quality. Given the current growing demand from groundwater sources to meet the increase in local food production, the elaboration of sustainable management practices and salinity control, combined with elaboration of a new water resources portfolio strategies would strongly benefit Qatar’s water resources management.

Study Area Description

  • Location: eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula
  • Area: approximately 11,600 km2
  • Elevation: from 0 to 94 m.a.s.l.
  • Average rainfall: 76 mm/year
  • Average evaporation: 2,200 mm/year
  • Population (2022): about 2.6 millions

Water Resources in Qatar


  • Rainfall
  • Groundwater


  • Desalinated sea water
  • Treated sewage effluent (TSE)
  • Treated industrial water

Groundwater Resources in Qatar

  • Four groundwater basins: The Northern Basin, The Doha Basin, The Southern Basin, and the Abu Samra Basin
  • Fresh groundwater is limited to Eocene and Paleocene rocks
  • Supply 73% of agricultural water
  • Extraction rate: 250 million m3/year
  • Safe yield: 57.2 million m3/year

Consequences of Groundwater Over-exploitation in Qatar

  • Reduction in the water table level, increasing the risk of saline connate water near the major fault systems
  • Upward movement and blending of formation water from deeper areas to shallower regions, leading to leading to the salinization of fresh groundwater and soil
  • Formation of collapsing features because of declining water levels, creating new pathways for saline water to rise and mix with relatively freshwater along the coastline
  • Acceleration of seawater intrusion of seawater due to changes in hydraulic gradients
  • Intensification the migration of saline sabkha water into unconfined areas of the coastal section within the aquifer system