Sewage stench stays with yacht club

A Dubai sailing club blighted by illegally dumped sewage will have to wait until after Ramadan before the issue is dealt with.

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DUBAI // A Dubai sailing club blighted by illegally dumped sewage will have to wait until after Ramadan before the issue is dealt with, it was revealed yesterday. The municipality has said it will arrange a meeting to discuss a solution to the illegal dumping, but only after the holy month has finished. The harbour of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, near one of four pipes that carry storm water out to sea, has been flooded with brown, stinking sewage after an increase in dumping this week.

The Dubai Police have said the problem is not theirs. "It is a matter for the municipality to deal with," a police spokesman said. The club lost its Royal Yachting Association teaching accreditation on Wednesday because of the pollution, which has also spread to a nearby public beach. Raw sewage began flowing into the harbour at the weekends about three months ago. However, over the past several weeks, it has appeared every day, leaving a stench and making several people sick.

Keith Mutch, the club's manager, expects further complaints today at a regatta that will go ahead despite the stench and polluted water. "They are big sailing boats so they go out past the slick but I expect a lot of people will complain," he said. "We have given everything to the municipality. We have sent a letter to the municipality but we have not heard anything but I expect to hear from them soon."

The municipality admitted that illegal dumping was a big problem and was planning to step up patrols around storm drains where waste was being dumped. However, a spokesman said inspectors were overstretched, especially at night when the dumping occurs. The municipality did not expect help from the police, the spokesman said. "We are not putting the responsibility on Dubai Police," said Abdul Majeed, director of the municipality's drainage and irrigation network.

"They are around 24 hours a day and have a lot of vehicles and any time they see something illegal they can investigate it at that time. "We will set up a meeting after Ramadan, with the police and the [Roads and Transport Authority] to help us," he said. He added that he believed dumping occurred around the Al Quz industrial area. "They do it around there because it these are not populated areas and they just go behind factories and just discharge it into the network."

Sewage tankers belong to private companies. They are supposed to discharge waste at sewage works but some instead dump their loads to avoid queues. The municipality is taking action that it hopes will cut the queues outside its sewage plant, but the problem will not be fixed overnight, said Mr Majeed. "We are building a treatment plant in Jebel Ali which is due to be commissioned next July, and currently we are expanding the treatment plant in the Al Aweer sewage treatment plant."

However, Mr Mutch said the issue was more pressing, with his club wanting to dredge its harbour and get its classes back to normal. "We don't know when to start. We can only clean it and replace the sand once the sewage stops flowing in," he said.