Building Qatar’s first sustainable city

When the FIFA World Cup is held in Qatar in 2022, the country will not only have several new stadiums but an entirely new city. Lusail City is planned to be Qatar’s first sustainable city. Xylem’s water monitoring technology is helping to ensure minimal environmental impact during its construction.

With an ever-expanding world population, many countries are building in new locations that were previously considered undevelopable. One of the newest and most ambitious locations being developed is in Qatar, on the Arabian Gulf. Lusail City, located along the coast just north of the capital city of Doha, will have more than 200,000 residents.

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In order to be ready for the FIFA World Cup in 2022, construction is in full swing on new waterways, land transportation and infrastructure systems, as well as residential, commercial and entertainment areas. The Lusail Iconic Stadium, on which construction will soon begin, will host the opening and final matches of the World Cup.

Monitoring marine environments

Other than the minimal border it shares with Saudi Arabia, Qatar is a peninsula, completely surrounded by the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The government of Qatar has established a Qatar Marine Zone (QMZ), which encompasses its entire 350 miles of coastline.

Qatar marine life is notable for its coral beds, dugong (a manatee relative) and whale shark populations, as well as other marine life and habitats. When modifying these coastal areas, marine environments and ecosystems need to be continuously monitored in order to address any changes that take place as a result.

The Qatari government and its construction partners aim to minimize the environmental impact of the Lusail project as much as possible. They have adopted the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) and the internationally recognized LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards for green and sustainable building development for the project.

Deepening channels and creating new islands

The Lusail project will involve several modifications to the coast. This includes creating 6.2 miles of block walls, 13 miles of rock revetments, and 2.5 miles of 19 new beaches. It will also involve dredging to increase the depth of navigation channels and to create man-made islands.

Though dredging is a necessary routine for waterways, it is not without its challenges. If unmonitored, dredging can cause high sediment concentration, which will have a negative impact on the ecosystem. The extent to which dredging can impact the ecosystem varies depending on a number of factors, however, monitoring can help officials maintain a safe environment during construction.

Environmental impact reports in real-time

To adhere to the Lusail oversight requirements, 50 monitoring stations including eight anchored buoys are being used to report dredging impacts in real-time. These stations and buoys constantly monitor water conditions, as high sediment concentrations can reduce dissolved oxygen in the water, which negatively affects marine life.

Each buoy contains a YSI EXO2 Sonde, and Storm 3 Data Logger with real-time data transmitted via GPRS. Designed for quick and easy calibration, the sondes allow long-term deployment with minimal maintenance. Additional water quality data such as pH, temperature and turbidity is collected and uploaded to the Environmental Agency in Doha.

The agency and dredging contractor Al Jaber Engineering review and assess the data, then send feedback to dredging equipment operators to adjust the progress and direction as needed. This feedback loop is a critical step to minimizing the impact of Lusail’s construction on marine ecosystems.

Read the full story in the latest issue of Mission: Water

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