Fish In The Desert

Dave Killion — October 28, 2012

In the United Arab Emirates, over 150 miles inland of the Persian Sea, something miraculous has been born in the desert: a freshwater lake

“Drive through the desert in the United Arab Emirates, and all you see mile after mile are red, rolling dunes. Maybe some occasional trees or shrubs, but otherwise a dry, red sandscape. And then, suddenly, a bright blue spot comes into view. It must be a mirage, you think. But it’s not. The water’s edge comes right up to the sand, the wet and the dry, kissing. The wind whips across the blue water’s surface, pushing it into a light chop. And wispy reeds in the center of the lake flutter in the breeze.”

The lake appeared only a few years ago, and has risen 35 feet in the past year alone. An increasing variety of birds are found annually, and thanks to heron that have  unknowingly transported eggs on their bodies from other lakes, even fish have begun to populate the lake. The lake is man-made… but not by design –

A desalination plant right on the coast pulls in saltwater from the Persian Gulf and makes that water drinkable and usable. The water is then pumped 150 miles inland to the city of Al Ain. The residents there drink it up, bathe with it and then flush it down their drains.

“It goes to the sewage treatment plant, and they treat it, and they bring it back into town. And they water the parks and the gardens and things like that, and that percolates down into the groundwater,” (U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist DavidClark says.

And then it ends up in the desert, a short distance from Al Ain, by percolating back up from the ground.”

The new bio-system naturally comes at the expense of a portion of the existing system, but there is little of the former and a great deal of the latter, so the benefits of increasing local bio-diversity appear to have come at a low cost. And perhaps in time the lake will grow to such a size that it can replace some (or all) of the water provided by the desalinization plant. This would be a tremendous energy savings. This lake, and others like it, are a testimonial to the creative role humanity plays in the environment.


missy says

we are so cool

— October 28, 2012

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