Chapter 13

Wasia-Biyadh-Aruma Aquifer System (North)


Executive Summary 

The Wasia-Biyadh-Aruma Aquifer System (North) lies on a high plain (400-800 m) that extends across the western Rutba High in Iraq and the Widyan Plain in Saudi Arabia. Also referred to as Sakaka-Rutba, the Wasia-Biyadh- Aruma Aquifer System (North) constitutes an important aquifer system in the area with freshwater flowing through six aquiferous units (Rutba-Ms'ad-Hartha-Tayarat in Iraq and Sakaka-Aruma in Saudi Arabia). Exploitation depth ranges between 200 and 400 m bgl.

The use of this aquifer system is currently limited due to its remoteness and the harsh environment in the area but the towns of Ar'ar and Sakaka in Saudi Arabia and Rutba in Iraq presumably rely on the aquifer system for their water supply. The Wasia-Biyadh-Aruma Aquifer System (North) is a promising aquifer system that could be used to encourage agricultural development in this pediment region, especially around the wadi areas where soils are fertile.

  • The Tuwaiq Escarpment, An Nafud Desert, Saudi Arabia, 2006. Source: Marcel Baptiste.
  • Artificial lake near Dumat al-Jandal, Saudi Arabia, 2006. Source: Walter Callens.
  • An Nafud Desert, Saudi Arabia, 2004. Source: Banco de Imagenes Geologicas.
  • The desert between Sakaka and Tayma, Saudi Arabia, 2006. Source: Walter Callens.

Basin Facts 

Riparian Countries Iraq, Saudi Arabia
Alternative Names Iraq: Rutba-Ms'ad-Hartha-Tayaraty
Saudi Arabia: Wasia Group Sakaka-Aruma
Renewability Very low to low (0-20 mm/yr)
Hydraulic Linkage with Surface water Weak
Rock Type Mixed
Aquifer Type Unconfined at/near outcrop areas
Confined further away
Extent ~112,000 km2
Age Mesozoic (Middle to Late Cretaceous)
Lithology Sandstones, locally calcareous or argillaceous
Thickness Iraq: 250 m
Saudi Arabia: 400 m
Average Annual Abstraction ≥ 30-35 MCM
Storage --
Water Quality Fresh to slightly brackish (400-3,000 mg/L TDS)
Water Use Domestic and irrigation
Agreements --
Sustainability --