A worker uses a hose to dissipate the foam Image Credit: Anjana Kumar/XPRESS

Dubai: Even as environmentalists are trying to figure out why thousands of fish washed up dead in a Jumeirah Islands lake last month, another mystery remains unresolved - large swathes of foam on the shores of a lake between Clusters 6 and 8 in the upscale community.

There is no official word on its cause but the phenomenon has certainly spooked residents.

Many fear the foul-smelling foam could be contaminated and lead to serious health hazards.

Hoses in hand, two workers were hopelessly trying to dissipate the enormous froths of scummy foam by shooting them with jets of water when this XPRESS reporter visited the site last week. The stench emanating from the place was unbearable.

Residents’ feedback

British expat Tamara B., who lives in Cluster 10, said the once-picturesque lake has become an eyesore. However, it’s the nauseating smell that has caused her the most anguish.

“It’s so overpowering you can’t walk around without covering your nose,” she said. “Mornings are particularly bad. The workers try to hose the foam down but their attempts are largely unsuccessful,” said another resident. “We’ve no clue why it is happening,” he added.

Many residents took to social media to express their concerns.

“It looks like fine environment/ ecology project for a school or university,” wrote one of them.

“It doesn’t look like organic bubbles or foam to me…. It is not a case of soap residue… What is this?” wondered another resident.

Natural phenomenon?

Some environmentalists say lake foaming is not a new phenomenon. “Wind-driven currents often create parallel streaks of foam in lakes. Foam is created as decomposing plants release organic compounds into the water. The compounds act as a “surfactant” and reduce the surface tension of water, causing bubbles to form. Many people blame shoreline foam on detergents, but detergents don’t create long-lasting foam since they quickly lose their sudsing ability. Natural foam has a somewhat earthy or fishy aroma while detergent foam has a distinct perfume smell.

Nakheel's response: “Surface froth is a naturally-recurring process that can occur in water bodies around the world, including Jumeirah Islands Lakes.  It is commonly caused by the breakdown of organic matter in the water, such as leaves, vegetation and algae. Unlike the closed lakes found in other Dubai communities, Jumeirah Islands Lakes is connected to the Arabian Gulf, so conventional chemical treatments used in those other lakes to control algae and prevent foaming cannot be used at Jumeirah Islands.
“We continue to address the issue by regularly cleaning the surfaces of the affected lakes. We are also exploring other solutions.”