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A peep into underground network

posted on 02/04/2005: 2640 views

Ever wondered where all the waste water goes? It all goes through a 1,200-kilometre sewerage pipeline network that takes it to a treatment plant.

Around 150 minor and seven major pumping stations ensure the smooth flow of the sewage. "The pipes are laid in such a way that the sewage flows with ease. The sew-age pumping stations also help the smooth flow of the waste until it reaches the main sewage treatment plant in Al Awir," said engineer Fareed Mohammad Saadi, Assistant Director of Drainage and Irrigation Department at Dubai Municipality.

More than 210,000 cubic metres of wastewater pass through the sewerage system every 24 hours.

About 40,000 cubic metres of wastewater also reach the treatment plant every day via tankers, having been sucked from septic tanks in areas where there is no sewerage network.

Sewerage system

More than 75 per cent of the city is covered by the sewerage system. "We are working hard to cope with the rapid development taking place in the city and have already launched a number of new projects," said Saadi. Interestingly, the wastewater is not wasted. It is treated and used to irrigate the city's greenery.

"We are protecting ground water and use the treated water to keep the city green," he said. "More than 20 million square metres are irrigated with treated water. About 2.2 million cubic metres of treated water are used every day. "This practice helps us save precious drinking water."

The treated water also supplies roadside fire hydrants, and consumers have the option to use this water with the department's permission. "We are working on a plan to provide treated water for farming in the Al Awir area," said Saadi. The treatment plant had a capacity of 130,000 cubic metres daily in 1988. This was increased to 260,000 cubic metres in 1998.

Preventive maintenance

More than 650 employees are working in the drainage and irrigation department, which was established in 1960 to ensure the smooth functioning of the system.

"Our aim is to provide a distinctive drainage and irrigation system and create an excellent city," said Saadi. To this end, the department carries out daily, weekly, monthly and yearly preventive maintenance operations.

Around three per cent of the wastewater contains sludge. It is dried and used as fertiliser for greenery and public parks. Besides the sewerage pipeline, Saadi said a separate drainage system also runs under the city. "So far, around 1,020 kilometres of drainage pipe-lines with 11,000 manholes have been laid in the city. The purpose of the drain-age system is to rid the public and private facilities of rainwater and underground water."

Small intakes on the roadsides funnel rainwater into a network of underground drainage pipes, and it is ultimately pumped into the sea. Saadi had a word of caution: "Use the sewerage system properly as it is one of the most essential services for the public, which also helps to keep the city clean. People should dispose of household products safely.

Solvents, pesticides, paint thinners, engine oil and household cleaning products containing hazardous chemicals should not be poured into the drainage system.

"It not only increases maintenance costs but also damages the sewerage network."

He said the department spends an average of Dh280 to Dh350 million on sewerage projects.

"This year the department has carried out projects worth Dh536 million, including Dh113 million for irrigation and Dh423 for sewerage and drainage systems."

The municipality is planning to complete the design of nine drainage and irrigation projects at a total cost of Dh1.730 billion this year. The projects are part of a plan aimed at meeting the growing demands of Dubai until 2020 and to increase hygiene standards in accordance with environmental standards.


Saadi said the drainage and irrigation projects are significant since they will meet the emirate's drain-age and irrigation requirements. As part of the development projects, a drainage system for the labour camps in the Al Quoz area is also being planned.

The project estimated to cost Dh45 million has major environmental significance.

The importance of the project lies in the prevention of soil pollution and environmental protection.

The project will serve an area of 250 hectares, and is expected to be ready in two years. Emergency numbers to report any faults or complaints regarding sewerage, drainage and irrigation systems are: 04-2232323 and 04-3243666. While residents go about their daily work unmindful of the waste water continually being generated, the underground network flows silently, keeping the city clean.


Nine projects are taking shape

Of the nine sewerage projects designed by Dubai Municipality, one of the most important is the Jebel Ali Sewerage Treatment Plant project. Once complete, it will increase the total waste water treatment capacity to 350,000 cubic metres. It is expected to meet the development requirements of the city till 2010.

A triple expansion of the plant is possible as and when the requirements arise.

The first phase of the project, the design for which will be ready by mid-2005, will cost Dh1 billion and is expected to be ready in 30 months. The plant is due to be fully commissioned by 2009.

Other projects include pumping stations costing Dh200 million. The work of the project will be carried out parallel to those of the proposed treatment plant at Jebel Ali. Also in the design phase is the Mirdif Drainage and Irrigation project. Costing Dh110 million, it covers an area of 1,000 hectares, and is expected to be complete in 24 months.

The projects also include the construction of the irrigation system from the treatment plant at Jebel Ali at a total cost of Dh100 million. The project is aimed at ensuring the supply of irrigation water for development projects in relevant areas. (The Gulf News)


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