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This desert reservoir could fill 10,000 Olympic swimming pools

The oil rich-emirate of Abu Dhabi is storing a vital resource in the desert: water.

On Monday, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) unveiled the largest desalinated water reserve in the world.

It holds 5.6 billion gallons (6.7 billion U.S. gallons, or 26 billion litres) of drinking water, enough to fill more than 10,000 Olympic swimming pools. In an emergency, it can provide one million people with 180 litres per person every day for three months, drawing water from 315 underground wells.

"Rather than building new tanks or storing water at ground level, where it is vulnerable to contamination or evaporation, our leaders made the bold decision to focus on this elegant water storage solution," said Razan Al Mubarak, Secretary General of Abu Dhabi's Environment Agency.

Freshwater is in very short supply in the UAE. Rainfall rarely exceeds 10 centimeters a year.

"This is only one component of the water security strategy that the Abu Dhabi government is implementing," said Al Mubarak.

Officials are also considering how to reduce demand and other innovative ways to improve supply, she added.

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