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Murky brown water fouls up Jumeirah beach

Worried residents suspect dumping of sewage behind the dirty streak in the sea

  • By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter
  • Published: 22:19 January 16, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/XPRESS
  • Red Sea: The streak of dirty water stretches up to 100 metres from the shoreline off Jumeirah near the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club XPRESS/Virendra Saklani
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Dubai: A possible algal boom or illegal discharge of untreated sewage on the Jumeirah Open Beach has fouled up a long stretch of Dubai’s pristine beach from Tuesday, raising alarm bells among members of a nearby sailing club.

Kite surfers who regularly use the area for their sport believe the discolouration was caused by effluents illegally dumped through the storm water drain and released into the open sea through a pipe going out near the harbour. The dark streak of water stretches up to 100 metres from the shoreline off Jumeirah near the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club (DOSC).

Narendra, an 29-year-old Indian fisherman tending his fishing net on the shore affected by the murky streak said he first saw it around 7am on Tuesday.

Ron, a regular surfer on the open beach, said: “It’s disgusting. It’s definitely sewage water. It comes and goes. This has been going on and off for the last three years. It’s the handiwork of some people illegally dumping untreated sewage on storm water drainage.”

Some teenagers were seen surfing on the shoreline waters where the streak floats in sharp contrast to the aquamarine colour of the open sea.

An official of DOSC, whose area is visibly affected by the dark-brown discharge, declined to comment. But a member at the club told XPRESS the murky water “is not nice” and that they are “unhappy” about it.

The fact that the wind is blowing towards the shore isn’t helping dissipate the streak.

“It’s really, really bad today,” said James, a European kite surfer. “This is my favourite surfing spot. I fell into it (dark-coloured water), and my face is getting a bit itchy. But it will come off after a good shower,” Gian, a French teenage surfer told XPRESS on Tuesday.

No swimmers in sight

A day later, on Wednesday, about a dozen kite surfers were seen where the streak was still hugging the shore. But swimmers were out of sight.

No comment came from the Dubai Municipality at the time of going to press, but an official said tests previously conducted on samples taken from the site proved the streak was “harmless”.

In October 2008, the Dubai Municipality had shut down the beach near the club after tests reportedly confirmed higher than normal levels of E.coli bacteria in the water. A few days earlier, a sewage truck was seen stopping over an unlocked storm water drain in Al Quoz. The illegal dump had put a stop to swimming and sailing at the club at that time.

Dr Reza Khan, a wildlife and zoo management specialist at Dubai Municipality’s Public Parks and Horticulture Department, however, said it is possible the brown streak is a result of algal blooms, microscopic single-celled plants known as marine phytoplankton, or popularly known as “red tide”.

“Algal blooms deplete the oxygen in the area where it occurs, so animals living around are deprived of oxygen. In some cases, it may result in a massive fish kill, especially if it occurs in summer.”

Two recent episodes of red tide were reported in Dubai in 2009. The first occurred in January near Port Rashid while the second occurred three months later on the Umm Suqeim Park beach, near the Burj Al Arab. This prompted the Dubai Municipality to shut down the affect beaches. 
Red tide wreaked havoc in Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE’s East Coast, too, about the same time.

Comments (6)

Your comments
  1. Added 10:22 January 17, 2013

    This would not be the first time that sewage had been dumped in the sea. It's disgusting. As tourists and residents depend so much on the sea as it a nice place for fun and enjoyment, something should be done about this.

    Chris, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 09:58 January 17, 2013

    If the area affected is the beach next to DOSC then it will likely be related to the well-known location of the outlet for the storm drains. Don't need any experts opinion for that. Certainly in the past, the storm drains were used to dump sewage when there were long queues for dumping waste at the sewage plant.

    Dod, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 09:12 January 17, 2013

    Dubai's shoreline is still unhygienic and the officials decline to tell the fact that it's unsafe to swim. Swimmers must go elsewhere to swim and tourists must be cautioned about this.

    anonymous, dhaka, Bangladesh

  4. Added 09:08 January 17, 2013

    This is strange. I am usually there on the beach on almost all weekends angling early morning. I noticed a lot of dirt and plastic including rotten fruits and vegetables being washed up the beach. I am not sure if this is related to the what's been reported in the article. But it is heart-breaking to see the state of Jumeirah Beach today. Already, there is a scarcity of fish because of sand dredging and offshore construction. Now the situation will be worst!

    Lance Fernandes, BurDubai, India

  5. Added 07:32 January 17, 2013

    If the area affected is near to the sewage outlet, it has to be sewage. It's time to take action against the offenders -- they could be pouring anything into the drains.

    Anthony Wilkinson, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 00:12 January 17, 2013

    No need to worry -- hope everything would be taken care by the authorities...

    Sk, Muhammad Abdullah Bawzir, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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