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Wadi Ibrahim Environmental Management System (WIEMS)

Definition, objectives, and methodology of the Wadi Ibrahim Environmental Management System (WIEMS)
The WIEMS is a multi-purpose system that works on data processing and analysis using the geologic, geo-engineering and hydrogeological perspectives to achieve the sustainability of Zamzam's supply sources. It adapts and supports GIS technology with multiple interactive frameworks to include all relevant information on the factors that affect the urban environment of the Wadi Ibrahim Basin. It provides the scientific framework in proposing the most effective ways to implement multiple solutions for the different projects and in submitting the required information to decision makers in a timely manner.

During the 12th International Geological Conference held in Jeddah from 18 to 21 Jumada al-awwal 1439 AH (4-7 February 2018), the Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources inaugurated the environmental management site of the Wadi Ibrahim Basin area in Mecca.

Visitors of the SGS website, who are interested in the development projects and urban activities within the Wadi Ibrahim basin, can view information regarding the results of the studies available for publication by going to the link dedicated to WIEMS on the main page of the SGS website, or by following the link:

The geological, hydrogeological, hydrological, and topographical information about the Wadi Ibrahim basin, can be viewed here. In addition, the levels of foundations, the quality of foundations, and the initial geotechnical recommendations for the building sites within the study area can be identified.

WIEMS Objectives

An integrated environmental plan for the management of the Wadi Ibrahim basin has been developed with the best practices and a better understanding of hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry of the Wadi Ibrahim basin which include hydrological and hydrogeological data, water quality data, water resources, land use, soil characteristics, baseline data, urban activities, transportation planning, building foundations, infrastructures, and socio-economic information.

  • Study, assessment, and monitoring of the conditions (quality and quantity) of the groundwater within Wadi Ibrahim basin
  • Plans for the sustainable management of the water catchment area of the Wadi Ibrahim basin in order to meet the increasing demand for the extraction of Zamzam water
  • Assess of the water quality and the proposal for the implementation of monitoring procedures and protection plans
  • Survey and assessment of the development activities affecting the environment in general and groundwater in particular and the monitoring of future developments
  • Development and implementation of an integrated plan for the environmental monitoring of the Wadi Ibrahim basin

A three-dimensional model of the geologic layers of the aquifer around the Grand Mosque area.

Mataf Expansion

The Mataf Expansion Project has included the adoption of works related to the environmental rehabilitation of the areas surrounding the Zamzam Well, after extensive investigations of the environmental and hydraulic aspects of the supplying aquifer.

It is supported by the results of the three-dimensional interactive mathematical model of the Zamzam Well basin that reflect the impacts of the foundations of old installations on the hydraulic characteristics of the supplying aquifer. Accordingly, a technical recommendation has been reached to remove all of the foundations located below 285.25 m, and replace the parts below this level with a selected engineering embankment, consisting of graded pebble materials to be sterilized before landfilling on the site. This is in order to liberate the aquifer center in the area surrounding the Zamzam water from the solid concrete structures. This forms as a part of the environmental rehabilitation project of the Zamzam Well and the drainage systems of the old Mataf.

The following objectives have been achieved during this project:

  • ncrease in the productive capacity of the Wadi section in the targeted area (around Zamzam Well) by 6%
  • Improvement of the dynamic flow mechanism of the water levels within the well during pumping by 16%, which allow the extensions of pumping hours (extracting additional water from Zamzam), while maintaining the water level within the safe limits of the well
  • Improvement on the quality of the incoming water by removing old cesspits located on-site
  • Isolation of the foundations of the project from the groundwater using environmentally friendly insulation materials, like high density polyethylene sheets, which have been used as an insulation between the foundations and the surrounding geological environment

Drilling of the foundation during the Mataf expansion.

Khandamah Development Project

The development project is located in Jabal Khandamah, overlooking the eastern area of the Grand Mosque, near the central area of Mecca. Jabal Khandamah is underlain by diorite, granodiorite, and quartz diorite with some gabbro and amphibolite. These rocks are fractured. . The project study includes the following objectives:

  • Assessment of the conditions of the rocks in the study area for rock cutting purposes
  • Assessment of the continuation of the rock cutting works
  • Conduct of quantitative assessment of rock cuttings and fillings
  • Evaluation of the geologic impacts, site topography, and geometrical characteristics of the rocks on the stability of the rock cutting works
  • Proposal of appropriate support system for unstable places
  • Assessment of the impacts of the Khandamah Development Project on the hydrogeologic balance of the Zamzam water

In this study, analysis has been applied using advanced technologies, including Rock Mass Rating system (RMR) to study the rock quality and the method of assessment using the SMR system to study mass stability situations, as well as using the numerical modeling for stress analysis. GIS has also been used to produce the final maps, taking into account the geology and topography of the site based on the results of the field surveys. In addition, a qualitative study has been conducted on how to exploit the openings and cracks to inject the storm water on the project site after its development. By adapting the engineering design of the project master plan, a rain harvesting effectiveness system that collects and filters the storm water falling on the buildings’ surfaces and roofs can be attained. This water can then be injected into the openings and cracks in the rock mass at the project site.


Surface and subsurface water flow directions at the project site.

 New Ajyad Hospital

The Ajyad project is located near the Grand Mosque. It aims to:

  • assess the conditions of the rocks for engineering purposes.
  • define the hydrologic system in the project area and its impacts on the establishment of the project foundations.
  • define the location, direction, and dimensions of the drainage tunnel of the storm water flowing under the project area.
  • define the type and level of the project foundations.

The study has also included geologic, structural, and engineering geology investigations, including the development of the maps that are related to other geophysical, geotechnical, hydrological, and hydrogeological investigations.


Foundation works in the new Ajyad hospital project.

Al-Sharif Al Ghaleb Project

The project is located in the Husseiniya district in the southeastern part of Mecca, 10 km southeast of Al Masjed Al Haram, and can be reached via the Mecca-Taif highway. The project area is considered as one of the most important areas in Mecca because of the rapid urban growth here during the past years.
Project Objectives

  • Estimation of the annual balance of the water mass in the project area.
  • Study on the effects of the different types of foundations on the flow of the groundwater by applying a three-dimensional model of the groundwater to the subsurface saturated area.
  • Estimation of the current hydraulic conductivities of the aquifer and the study on the effects of the deep foundations of the project on the value of the hydraulic conductivities of the aquifer in its different layers as a result of the construction of project, using three-dimensional hydrographic modeling.
  • Development of a three-dimensional model of the groundwater in the project area and the determination of the depth of the weathered and Precambrian rocks surrounding the project area. Modeling includes the subsurface natural layers, as well as the foundations of the newly constructed buildings to simulate the real conditions in the project area.
  • Development of the different modeling scenarios in order to simulate the decline and rise of the groundwater levels during different periods, from five years to fifty years, as a result of the construction of the project on the aquifer in the area.
  • Study on the impacts of the development of the region on the Zamzam water.

3D ground layer model in the project area.


Model of the projected rise of the groundwater levels in the project area after 50 years.

Jabal Omar Development Project

The Jabal Omar Development Project (JODP) is the first mega project that is being implemented through the supervision of the ZSRC consultants. The importance of this project relates to the hydraulic link between the Zamzam Well and the groundwater that exists in the project site during the seasons of Ramadan and Hajj, when the well is pumping continuously at maximum capacity, causing a decline in the level of the well water in the Project area. The scope of work for the project includes the following:

Development of detailed scope of work for site investigations and groundwater modeling

  • Geotechnical investigations
  • Hydrogeological investigations
  • Geophysical investigations
  • Laboratory tests
  • Monitoring of wells/piezometer
  • Construction and evaluation of groundwater models
  • Preparation of tender documents and bill of quantities
  • Technical evaluation of tenders and the rating of the contractors
  • Supervision of site investigations
  • Evaluation of reports from the contractors
  • Production of final report with recommendations

The ZSRC was involved in varying degree in almost all of above tasks, and has introduced for the first time in Saudi Arabia the concept of rainfall harvesting. The removal of Jabal Omar for the construction of high-rise buildings would lose a part of the rainfall, which would have ultimately replenished the Wadi Ibrahim aquifer. Therefore, a rainfall harvesting system was devised as a system that involves collecting rainfall from the building roofs and paved open spaces, and conveying the water through pipes into the open-bottomed tanks for the recharge of the aquifer.


Groundwater Contours in the alluvial aquifer in a portion of the JODP project area

Stabilization of Abandoned Storm-water Tunnels

Some tunnels were originally constructed to serve as a part of the storm water drainage system in the Wadi Ibrahim Basin in Mecca. Due to excessive dewatering during tunnel excavation, the groundwater table in some parts of the Wadi Ibrahim was lowered to unacceptable levels, and it was decided to suspend the construction operations during the early eighties. The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources (SGS) was assigned to find solutions to recover the groundwater, which was done in a short period as a temporary solution.

This was followed by the development of permanent solutions to restore its condition before drilling the tunnels.

This was done by the SGS through the royal instructions, by filling the tunnels with gravels using one of the advanced and unique technologies in the world, while maintaining the presence of the groundwater inside the tunnels.

The work stages were carried out without draining these tunnels through the development of a hydraulic pump system that pumps the gravel with the water drawn from the inside of the tunnels. Then, it returns the water to achieve the hydrogeological balance using highly developed technologies that include the design for an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).

The vehicle is equipped with survey and photographic elements in order to ascertain the filling levels, using a crew of professional divers, who connected the gravel pumping pipes from the surface with the ROV that is equipped with a gravel distribution device in the entire area of the tunnel section in all directions.

This is in addition to the implementation of the necessary maintenance of the ROV in the tunnels that are filled with water under a pressure of up to 4 bars.

These new technologies used in this project have been included in the projects with regards to location, environment, and technology used.


One of storm water tunnels.

 Project to protect pilgrims' homes against torrent hazards in Mina

The storm water drainage network in this area has not been sufficient to deal with the storm water coming from the northern mountain slopes, especially from the slopes in Mina.

It threatens the pilgrims in the mountainous slopes with drowning and the destruction of the existing structures. It also generates heavy local torrents.

The project assessment has concluded the importance of dealing with these floods and intercepting the water through a channel that transfers this water to three dams and then draining the water through a network of tunnels to the Wadi Ibrahim basin in the Al-Maisam area.

This is why a fourth dam has been constructed in a selected area to drain the water retained in the upper part of the aquifer of the Wadi Ibrahim Basin.

These attempts to partially compensate for the loss of natural supply of water as a result of the urban development over the past years, which did not consider the importance of conserving the natural supply of the water in the Wadi Ibrahim basin. The project has two objectives.

Project Objectives

  • Protection of the pilgrims’ homes in Mina against torrent hazards
  • Benefiting from the storm water by re-injecting it into the Wadi Ibrahim basin without affecting the chemical composition of the groundwater, as the injected water comes from the same geological environment as that of the basin

Storm water drainage network in Mina.

Project on the development of King Abdulaziz Road (Parallel) in Mecca

The ZSRC specialists assess the impacts of the infrastructural works of the parallel road project in Mecca by undertaking a detailed geologic, engineering geology, and hydrogeological investigations of the project site.

The project is carried out by the Umm Al Qura for the Development & Construction Company. The effects of the impacts on the hydrogeological balance and its relation to the supply of water to the Zamzam Well are studied.

The project is near the Wadi Ibrahim basin, and it is also located in the proximity of the Jabal Omar project. It connects several adjacent aquifers, which require precautionary measures to prevent changing the geomorphological structures of the adjacent aquifers and maintain the movement of the natural groundwater.

The company works in cooperation with its consultants, Dar Al-Handasah, to conduct specialized technical investigations for the project contractor, Nesma and Partners Contracting Co. Ltd, in cooperation with the KEO Consultants, and the designer, KOI and Parsons, which is responsible for the design review. It is expected that these investigations will provide recommendations that will help in selecting the optimal designs for the appropriate depths of construction and the necessary precautions to maintain the hydrogeological balance in the vicinity of project.

The work included the conduct of geological surveys, the preparation of geologic, structural geology, and engineering geology maps, in addition to the hydrologic and hydrogeological investigations and the issuance of related reports. This work also involves the drawing of an interactive numerical model that simulates the flow of groundwater, using specialized programs to assist the decision-makers in the mitigation of the negative effects of the infrastructural works on the movement and quality of the groundwater.


Project site


Master Plan (Al Balad Al Amin).


Outputs of the mathematical model.

 Environmental renovation project for the area surrounding the Zamzam Well

The ZSRC specialists has completed (Shaaban 1439 AH) their tasks related to the project of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, to expand the Mataf (second phase), which includes the completion of the construction of 5 service crossovers from the eastern side of the Mataf, as well as the removal of the old foundations of the basement adjacent to the Zamzam Well and the surrounding areas. The site has also been filled with gravel layers and a metal structure that is similar to the rocks surrounding the Zamzam Well in order to preserve the chemical characteristics of the well water. These works aim to improve the hydraulic characteristics of the area surrounding the well by increasing the storage rates and flow velocity in the Wadi section that is adjacent to the well. This results to an increase in the total quantity of production, which corresponds to the increase in the expected demand on the Zamzam water, based on the vision of Kingdom 2030.


Overview of the environmental renovation project for the area surrounding the Zamzam Well.


The ZSRC specialists supervising the project works.


The removal of the foundations of the old basement located in the vicinity of the Zamzam Well.


Reinforcement works on the service crossovers.


Laying the sterile gravel layer.

Further Projects:

  • First Project of the Makkah Development Company
  • Dar Al-Tawhid Intercontinental Hotel
  • Souk Al-Saghir Underpass
  • King Abdulaziz Endowment Project
  • Haram 3rd Expansion (Al-Shamiya)
  • King Abdulaziz Endowment Project 2
  • Dar Al-Khalil Development Project
  • Jabal Al Sayedah Project

Requirements and Procedure for the Approval of the Foundations of Engineering Projects within the Wadi Ibrahim Basin

  • The owner or his representative shall communicate with the SGS, represented by the ZSRC. The ZSRC can be reached via telephone through an e-mail
  • The foundation levels shown on the map below shall be followed.
  • If the soil needs to be improved or replaced below the foundation level at depths greater than the levels shown on the map, the quality of the materials used shall be of consistency and permeability that is equal to or higher than the layer to be replaced, in accordance with an approved technical investigation.
  • In order to support the sides of the site below the groundwater level, a layer of gravel filter of certain specifications shall be placed around the project site, in accordance with the characteristics of the soil, to reduce the negative impacts on the hydrogeological balance around the project area, based on the approved engineering designs.
  • Environmentally safe materials shall be used in all construction works implemented under the groundwater level. Any material with negative environmental effects, such as bentonite or toxic admixtures, shall not be used in drilling works or in the concrete used for the underground foundations.
  • Civil blasting materials shall not be used for rock cutting works in any way under the groundwater level within the Wadi Ibrahim Basin, and the scope of protection shall be according to the approved map.

If there is a need to temporarily reduce the groundwater level to construct the foundations of the project, it is necessary to prepare a hydrogeological investigation from an accredited body, which includes the following:

  • Method of reduction to be followed
  • Distribution of pumps inside the site
  • Amount of pumping and pumping hours required
  • Total target quantity
  • Time period required
  • To preserve the natural resources of the Wadi Ibrahim basin, a detailed investigation by an approved engineering office on the rainfall harvesting system for projects, covering an area of or more than 1,000 m2, is required in order to deal with a rain storm that occurs every 100 years.
  • Any support and reinforcement work that are deeper than the groundwater level shall not be implemented unless they are temporary and can be removed, when the foundations are completed.