Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

Al Raha Beach residents fear sewage is leaking into the waters near where they swim

The area, which has several popular beachside developments, is home to thousands of people in Abu Dhabi

Residents living in Raha Beach say developers are dumping waste in the water and allowing sewage to leak into the sea near where they swim. Courtesy: Agnieszka Przybyla 
Residents living in Raha Beach say developers are dumping waste in the water and allowing sewage to leak into the sea near where they swim. Courtesy: Agnieszka Przybyla 

Construction companies are pumping waste and allowing ‘sewage’ to leak into the sea near a popular beachside community.

Residents living in Al Raha Beach in Abu Dhabi said pipes coming from a construction site behind Al Zeina have been pumping liquid waste into the water, turning a nearby canal white. There is a similar problem elsewhere in Al Zeina near a popular fishing spot, residents said.

Further down Raha Beach, at another development under construction between Al Hadeel and Lamar Residences, residents reported seeing sewage funnelled into the sea when toilets overflow at temporary buildings used by construction workers — which residents said happens daily.

The smell is unbearable. It’s clearly sewage

Maria Saavedra

“It happens a couple of times a day, especially in the evening, there is a lot of water overflowing. It’s from the toilets and showers. It runs over the promenade and goes directly into the water of the canal,” said Maria Saavedra, who lives in Al Zeina about the site near an area marked Al Seef on maps.

“The smell is unbearable. It’s clearly sewage.”

Concerned that the sewage would drift down to the beaches at Al Muneera and Al Zeina, which are used by hundreds of residents, Ms Saavedra contacted Aldar, the owner of the area, this week but has yet to hear back.

The developer told The National it had been made aware of residents’ concerns and was investigating their complaints.

It is not clear what is being pumped into the waters at the two sites around Al Zeina, but some speculated it could be related to the heavy rain last week.

“Looks like storm drains are being flushed out to clear the build up of dust and silt to prevent future flooding,” wrote one resident of the Al Zeina Community Facebook group.

Fellow resident Charlotte Moran said she could see the canal from her the balcony “getting whiter and whiter” when pipes were discharging waste.

But Ms Saavedra said developers have been doing it for “years”.

“It might get clogged with sand from the construction and they clear it from time to time, but of course all of it ends on our beach. I can see it travelling,” she said.

“My apartment faces the sea, so I can see this sandy water coming out of the canal, into the sea, travels past Al Zeina and most of it ends up on Al Zeina’s beach. I can see it. It’s a lot of dirt and sand. When I see this happening I don’t go to the beach.”

One resident claimed the problem was not limited to the two developments.

There are more than a dozen developments under construction in the area, and “many” had pipes that could discharge water and waste into the sea, he said.

The Al Zeina resident said he was surprised when he noticed how many construction sites had the pipes.

“If you walk along the canal on Amwaj side and pass the closed walk way you will see pipes from every construction down the canal,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Aldar said: “Aldar has been made aware of certain practices by third party developers in the Al Raha Beach area.

“We have investigated these as we take the health and safety of those on site and in our communities incredibly seriously.

“We also work closely with the relevant authorities to ensure that all parties with whom we contract are operating according to best practices.”

Strict rules govern construction work and the disposal of waste material in Abu Dhabi. In 2018, the municipality issued 67 offences and 53 warnings to building contractors and consultants for not abiding by Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) standards.

The municipality inspected construction sites across Abu Dhabi emirate, including Al Raha Beach. Dumping waste illegally was among the offences recorded.

Updated: January 23, 2020 03:46 PM

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