x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Black waters force Dubai to close beach

A section of public beach near a sailing club in Dubai closes to let inspectors find out the cause of contamination in the water.

DUBAI // A section of public beach near a sailing club was closed yesterday to let inspectors find out what contaminated the water. Beach users said the water was black and Mohammed Abdul Rahman Hassan, the head of marine environment and wildlife section at the municipality, confirmed that inspectors had noticed "decolourised" water in the area and closed the beach. Water samples were collected from the stretch along the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club area. Test results will determine whether the beach can be reopened. "We took fresh samples today and the results will be out in the coming days. This means that the stretch of the beach area will remain closed for at least the next two days," Mr Hassan said. The contaminant apparently was in discharges from a storm-water drainage pipe. Industrial waste dumped into the pipeline could be one of the causes, he said. The beach next to the sailing club was shut by municipal ­officials in September last year when sewage illegally dumped by tanker drivers into the city's storm drains flowed into the sea. More than 200 drivers were caught. Their companies were fined as much as Dh100,000. Drivers were also threatened with deportation if they were found to be dumping again. The beach area was later declared safe for swimming. "The penalties by the municipality have been effective in reducing the cases of sewage dumping. We continue to crack down on the violators," Mr Hassan said. Cases still come up occasionally. Mr Hassan said water samples are collected every week to monitor water quality. Inspectors regularly check all beaches in the city to check for decolourising, bad odour or other signs of contamination. Tests on samples are carried out to look for traces of E. coli and other harmful content in the water. Salem bin Mesmar, the assistant director general for health, safety and environment control at Dubai Municipality, said the closing was routine. "The tests help us to monitor the water. If we find that there is a problem, we temporarily shut it down," he said. pmenon@thenational.ae