DUBAI // Developer Nakheel has said it will act to rid a Dubai neighbourhood of an overpowering smell of sewage after residents voiced fears it could cause health problems.
Many long-time residents in The Gardens complained the persistent smell comes from irrigation water used near the Jebel Ali Gardens community.
The odour used to be restricted to the evening when the sprinkler system was in use, but now people say the stench filters through apartment and car windows day and night.
Nakheel has said the issue is a high priority and additional measures are being activated to control the smell.
“It is unbearable, it is so strong and intense I’m afraid it will affect my pregnancy,” said Marina, 37, a housewife who lives in The Gardens and is expecting her second child.
“Obviously it cannot be healthy. My son has a constant stuffed nose and cannot breathe properly when he gets up. We keep going to the doctor and I don’t know how much is related to this strong smell that comes into the house even when I shut the windows.”
The problem worsened after a burst water pipe caused major flooding in the area around Ibn Battuta Mall on July 18.
Residents have since complained to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), Nakheel and Dubai Municipality.
Like others, Marina bought an air purifier hoping it would weaken the odour.
“All my neighbours are frustrated, we don’t know what to do and the purifier I bought is not enough, it cannot cope with the smell,” said Marina.
“We have lost hope that it will change. I first complained to Dewa, then Nakheel and also the municipality. Everyone is pointing a finger at each other. This was such a beautiful place before, now I just feel depressed with the smell.”
Apologising to residents, Nakheel said it was working with the municipality on the issue that was exacerbated after the July flooding.
“We apologise for this inconvenience and are working with the Dubai Municipality to resolve it,” said Rebecca Rees, a spokeswoman for Nakheel.
“The issue was aggravated by the flooding in July caused by a Dewa pipe breakage, which damaged some of our sewage treatment plant equipment. We have made significant progress, having completed cleaning and rehabilitating significant areas of the irrigation network.
“We are now activating additional measures to control the odour of the irrigation water. We continue to treat this matter as high priority.”
Some residents have had to alter their jogging routes outdoors to avoid the smell.
Dominic, an engineer training for the Standard Chartered Marathon in January, runs along the path around the Jebel Ali Area.
He said he “almost vomited while running due to the stench that surrounds some parts of the area”.
“I try not to run if I know the sprinklers are on and it is disruptive to change my pattern,” he said.
“Something needs to be done. I’m not a scientist but I can’t see how living in an area with a permanent stench is a good thing for you.”
During July’s flooding, water got into a power generator causing an explosion and fire. No one was injured and civil defence crews were able to control the blaze.