Major Research Project Launched On Zam Zam

RIYADH, 17 January 2005 — Saudi Arabia has launched a major research project to monitor demand of Zam Zam water. The study aims to optimize supply and distribution of Zam Zam, while making sure that sustainable supply limits are not exceeded in order to prevent wastage or possible depletion of the water well.

With the dramatic rise in the number of pilgrims from only a few thousands per year reported during 1960s to millions arriving every year during this decade including more than two million reported to perform Haj this year alone, supplies could be under threat.

“The Kingdom, which has set up the Zam Zam Studies and Research Center (ZSRC) under the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), is working to determine scientific solutions for effective monitoring and management of the acquifer feeding the Zam Zam well and to ensure the purity and security of supply,” according to an abstract of the research project obtained by Arab News.

New methods of supply and distribution of Zam Zam, which has been used by the pilgrims for the last 4,000 years, are desperately needed.

The Zam Zam well is hand-excavated and is 30.5-meter deep, with an internal diameter ranging from 1.08 to 2.66 meters. The well is now housed in a basement room of the Holy Haram in Makkah and it is protected by glass panels that allow a clear view of it. The upper 13.5-meter of the well is excavated in the sandy alluvium of the Wadi Ibrahim, and the lower 17.0-meter in the underlying diorite bedrock. In between lies a 0.5-meter thick highly permeable weathered rock. Most of the alluvial section of the well is lined with stone masonry except for the top 1 meter, which has a reinforced concrete collar.

Referring to the research project, the abstract said that the ZSRC is also focusing on storage and distribution system currently in use. With the increasing number of pilgrims and visitors, demand for Zam Zam water has been continuously increasing.

ZSRC also seeks to estimate sustainable well yield and recommend measures to ensure that sustainable supply limits are not exceeded. The research aims to present solutions to these complex problems through an integrated approach to water catchment management and conservation.

“Through these actions, the quality and quantity of supply from the Zam Zam well can be sustained to meet the spiritual needs of the world’s one billion Muslims,” said the abstract. In order to manage demand, water from Zam Zam well is pumped, treated and stored in underground storage tanks on a continuous basis at the moment. Before distribution among consumers and transportation to Madinah, Zam Zam water is also treated by a series of sand filters, micro filters and ultraviolet disinfection.

The SGS’s research center is also engaged in designing and upgrading the treatment system. Already, two phases of upgrading have been completed and the third phase is in active consideration. Moreover, the research center follows these activities and ensures strict quality assurance measures.

Pilgrims habitually carry Zam Zam water back to their homes in plastic containers of 10 or 20 liters which they fill themselves from access points, situated around the Holy Mosque or at a central filling station.

More commonly they buy the filled containers from roadside venders on the outskirts of Makkah. This distribution system is wanting in hygiene and offsets the efforts of treatment. Therefore, the research center is in the process of evaluation of the present filling system and design of upgrading that will minimize direct human involvement and discourage peddling by vendors.

Add Comment