Dubai: A desert lagoon has been created for 500 sewage tankers to dump their load everyday to decrease pressure on the only sewage treatment plant in Dubai and to minimise ocean and land pollution, Gulf News has learnt.
More than 100 tankers have also been caught illegally dumping sewage around the city which has resulted in Dubai Municipality collecting total fines of more than Dh1 million.
The pit is located around 30 kilometres from Al Aweer sewage treatment plant in the desert in a fenced off area.
It will serve as a "medium-term solution", said Salem Mesmar, head of the public health department at Dubai Municipality.
He affirmed that it would not pose any health risks to residents. "It is a temporary lagoon and will accommodate 500 tankers daily... it is not just a hole in the desert, it has been engineered, we have contractors working on it," he said.
"This is better than having sewage dumped anywhere - this is under our control. There will be some treatment of the sewage but it will not be a fully fledged treatment plant."
Mohammad Najim, director of Al Aweer sewage treatment plant said the tankers would be able to start dumping sewage at the desert site before the end of the year.
He said the site would be aerated naturally with only preliminary treatment. Reeds and bamboo will also be planted there to transfer oxygen to the sewage and help break it down.
"This is what mother nature does over the long term... some of the water will seep into the ground and some will evaporate. The lagoon will have four areas and eventually the water will get clearer," Najim told Gulf News. He said this technology is commonly used in countries that cannot afford proper facilities or infrastructure.
"The site will be open for between three to six months and accommodate 500 tankers which is a fifth of our total tankers," he said.
Illegally dumped sewage in storm water drains has resulted in serious faecal pollution on one of Jumeirah's beaches and caused havoc with sailing schedules of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club.
"We are very sorry about that. It is impossible to close them [storm drains] as they are all connected," said Mesmar.