x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Developer Nakheel says it is working to resolve the problem, made worse after an estimated 16 million gallons of floodwater had to be pumped away the area after a Dewa water pipe burst.

Hundreds of people were stranded for hours at Ibn Battuta Mall after a burst main pipe left their cars submerged in water near Discovery Gardens. Satish Kumar / The National
Hundreds of people were stranded for hours at Ibn Battuta Mall after a burst main pipe left their cars submerged in water near Discovery Gardens. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Residents of Discovery Gardens are demanding developer Nakheel takes action over a strong smell of sewage they fear could be a health risk.

The odour is believed to come from the water used in sprinklers in the Jebel Ali Gardens community. The problem is worse in the evenings and in areas near Ibn Battuta Mall.

“We have lived here for about four years and I would say it has definitely been something I have noticed in the last 12 months,” said Mohammed Fahad, 33, from Pakistan. “It happens at different times but it is usually worse in the evenings when they turn on the sprinklers.”

The stench has been a continuing source of frustration for residents.

“The smell is really overpowering and it is almost toxic,” Mr Fahad said. “It has got so bad that it has got into our air-conditioning vents.”

Mr Fahad is worried it could affect his family’s health.

“My daughter has been unwell, coughing all the time,” he said. “She gets better for a while but then it gets worse again once the smell returns.”

At first the family thought she was allergic to bed bugs or dust mites.

“We had the apartment fumigated but the problem remained, and now I think it is more likely that it is something to do with the water used in the sprinklers around here,” he said.

Despite repeated assurances over the past few months from Nakheel that the issue would be resolved, nothing has happened, Mr Fahad said.

“I contacted Nakheel [on September 30] and spoke with their community service manager. She told me they were aware of the situation and were hoping to resolve it within the next 10 days,” he said.

“It is not just me that is complaining, many others have also asked Nakheel what is going on.”

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) told Mr Fahad it did not handle issues related to sewage and advised him to contact the developer.

Another Discovery Gardens resident, who did not wish to be named, said the problem got worse after a burst water pipe caused serious flooding around the mall in July.

“We have always noticed some kind of smell for a good few months but it definitely got worse after we had the big flooding a couple of months ago,” said the resident, from India.

“It seems to be much worse later at night and, to be honest, I just keep the windows closed during the evenings.

“We have asked the community managers about if and when the problem will be solved, but never get a straight answer.

“It can get really bad in the evenings now and you are less inclined to be outdoors, which is a shame because with the weather cooling you want to be able to enjoy that.”

Nakheel said it was aware of the problem but the process to resolve it would take about six weeks.

“We apologise for this inconvenience and are working to resolve it,” a spokeswoman said. “The issue was aggravated by the flooding in July caused by a Dewa pipe breakage, which damaged some of our sewage treatment plant [STP] equipment. We are currently in the process of rehabilitating the STP, cleaning irrigation tanks and replacing irrigation pumps.”

An estimated 16 million gallons of flood water was pumped away from in and around Ibn Battuta mall after the Dewa water pipe burst.

The water also seeped into a power generator, causing an explosion and fire. The blaze was quickly brought under control and police said no one was injured.