Abu Dhabi: In a bid to prevent flooding in the capital, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality is considering the injection of stormwater into deep aquifers, and will also build three large pumping stations in Shakhbout City this year.

In addition, the municipality is calling upon private sector investors to develop sustainable infrastructure that can make use of the ponds created by the collection of excess water.

“We have quite a lot of excess irrigation water from the farms in Al Wathba, and we are looking at ways these can be used or drained in a sustainable manner. As of now, no projects have been announced but we believe that the ponds can prevent valuable investment opportunities for the private sector,” said Mohammad Karama, director for infrastructure assets at the municipality.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the Future Drainage and Stormwater Networks Conference, where industry experts are meeting with government officials to discuss the UAE’s drain systems.

According to municipality officials, a number of projects are planned for 2018 to adequately control Abu Dhabi’s groundwater level, and to ensure that collected stormwater is drained in an efficient manner. Experts said that the groundwater table is on the rise in quite a few areas of Abu Dhabi due to the leakage of irrigation water and the lack of permeability of soil layers, and that this can pose flooding risks.

In March 2016, for instance, severe thunderstorms saw the municipality receive 860 reports of flooding and property damage.

Dr Amr Elagroudy, stormwater drainage adviser at the municipality, said the existing drain networks on Abu Dhabi island as well as in the suburbs are due for maintenance this year, and that these projects will be launched shortly. Two years ago, the municipality launched a Dh39.6-million project to improve this existing rainwater drainage in the capital.

“We are also looking at non-traditional methods of draining stormwater, especially in remote areas. Typically, we use pipelines in most areas to collect the excess stormwater and drain it to the sea. But in certain remote areas, which are say 40 kilometres from the city, it is expensive to set up new pipelines. Instead of constructing a new drainage pipeline, we are in talks with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi to inject stormwater into deep aquifers (a body of rock that can contain groundwater),” Dr Elagroudy said.

A mega project is also planned to serve the developing suburbs of South Shamkha and Al Wathba.