Riyadh’s environmental committee has begun implementing a plan to combat pollution in the capital city.

Air quality is the committee’s chief concern, but waste management, water protection, visual pollution and the creation of wildlife zones featured heavily in a government meeting early this week.

On 21 June Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz, acting emir of Riyadh and chairman of the kingdom’s High Committee for Environment Protection recommended building 10 monitoring stations in Riyadh to track the city’s declining air quality.

To that end, the Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ministry committed to stringent refining techniques to ensure motorists are using clean petrol and diesel fuel.

Riyadh is also planning to establish a city-wide waste management system for recycling and disposal of medical waste and oil and petroleum derivatives, says Engineer Abdullatif al-Asheik, president of the Arriyadh Development Authority.

To achieve Riyadh’s water-based goals, the second phase of Riyadh’s estimated $450m wastewater treatment plant at Al-Hayer is scheduled for completion in 2011. In addition, the third phase of the estimated $50m wastewater plant at Al-Kharj is scheduled to finish in 2012.

At present, the water purification plant in Wadi Hanifah is the kingdom’s largest non-chemical facility of its kind. By 2021, the plant is expected to recycle up to a million cubic metres of water per day (MEED 20:5:10).     

The committee also recommended the creation of wildlife zones and studies to protect valleys and agricultural lands in and around Riyadh.

Visual pollution was the final environmental programme discussed at the meeting. Efforts to improve Riyadh’s aesthetic appearance and reduce noise and electromagnetic waves in the city are also being considered.