x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Penalties for coastal dumping increased

People who illegally dump sewage may have to pay stiffer fines or even go to jail, says a municipal officer.

DUBAI // People who foul Dubai's coastal waters by illegally dumping sewage may have to pay stiffer fines or even go to jail, a municipal official said yesterday. "The police are helping us and the municipality is doing everything in its powers to do something about it," said Abdul Majeed, director of the municipality's drainage and irrigation network.

"We will make more inspections and those caught may face jail for a day or two and a much larger fine." A committee is being set up to deal with the issue and avoid further problems. More than 4,000 manholes in the Jumeirah area were welded shut to deter lorry drivers from dumping cargoes of sewage into a system that is pumped into the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club's harbour. The club suspended all sailing and closed its beach because of polluted water.

Officials had recommended for weeks that swimmers avoid the public beach next to the sailing club and have now blocked it off to keep people away. "Other beaches in the area got the 'all clear', and it is only this one that has got traces of E.coli," said Mohammed Hassan, head of marine environment and sanctuaries for the municipality. "But we are assessing the tests further." Keith Mutch, manager of the sailing club, said no more sewage was being pumped into the harbour. "We hope next week we will see an improvement in the water," he said.

The municipality cannot completely stop pumping because of the backlog of raw sewage in the system that is only intended for storm-water drainage, Mr Majeed said. When the pump was turned off, sewage began to seep up through the pipes in Jumeirah and pumping had to resume. "We have put more people on at night to catch the illegal dumpers and it is not just us who are working on it. The environmental department, the police and other departments are working on this. It is a team effort and we have to work together on it." Mr Majeed also said his department found that the brown residue at the bottom of pipes when the pumps stopped was sand.

The municipality still wants the public to phone its hotline (800 900) to report dumping. eharnan@thenational.ae