Saudi Arabia is home to the world’s largest oil reserves, but it’s desperately short on another, equally precious resource: water. There isn’t a river or lake to be found anywhere in the nation, and the only renewable water sources are shallow aquifers refilled by infrequent rains. A growing population, a fondness for showy swimming pools and fountains, and a not-very-conservation-minded agricultural industry are all putting increased pressure on the limited water supply. Meanwhile, as the aquifers are drained, the concentration of salts and metals rises in the remaining water, which must undergo a costly purification process before it can be used, even for agricultural purposes. And water shortages, or the fear of them, contribute to tensions in an already volatile region.