UMM AL QUWAIN // Residents have complained about the quality of water piped to their homes, with some fearful that high levels of sodium could be affecting their health.
The emirate has experienced problems with its water supply for many years, with leaking pipes and shortages adding to complaints about the often salty taste. In 2012 the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa) launched a Dh520 million, five-year plan to improve UAQ’s ageing water system after a study found that 85 per cent of its network needed work.
Since then people have noticed improvements in water quality, but say problems still persist.
Mohammed Fathi Ahmed, an Egyptian salesman who has lived in UAQ for 10 years, said the water at his home is salty, which he blamed for his hair loss and claimed was bad for his children’s health.
“I lived in a house behind Lulu Hypermarket and the domestic water was significantly salty, like sea water. After that I decided to move to a new house which is close to the sea and the water was also salty, but slightly less than the former place.
“It leads to my hair falling out and affects the children through the entry of salt water into their bodies while showering and brushing their teeth.
“When we wash fruit, vegetables, rice and dishes, the remnants of sodium remain on them.”
The 39-year-old said the issue had improved over the years, but had not completely disappeared. “We ask the concerned authorities to treat the water.”
Ashim Dulal Das, a 24-year-old from Bangladesh who has lived in the emirate for six years, agreed there were problems, but things had improved recently.
“[A month ago], the salinity of domestic water was harmful to my hair while showering. But now the water is purified and I can use it for drinking and cooking.”
Most of the UAE’s water is produced in desalination plants that remove the salts dissolved in sea water. In some cases, groundwater is also used.
Abdulraheem Al Deen Khatibi moved from Abu Dhabi to UAQ a year ago and noticed a difference in water quality.
“I noticed that water in buildings was not as good as the water in Abu Dhabi,” said the 24-year-old cashier from Iran. “The water in my building was too salty, but it is now less by 50 per cent.”
Ahmed Youssef, 61, an Arabic teacher from Jordan who has lived in UAQ for 15 years, said: “Compared to the water of my home country, Palestine and Jordan, the water is slightly salty.
“In my opinion, the salinity residents talk about depends on the newness of the building and the age of the water tank and supply pipes.”
He noted that if these were old and become rusted, it could lead to a salty taste.
“The water authority takes water from the sea and purifies it for homes. No matter how excellent the treatment, the water will still have a percentage of sodium.”
Mohammed Saleh, director-general of Fewa, said only areas in the emirate that previously took water from wells had a problem with salinity, but it was no longer an issue.
“UAQ’s water doesn’t have salinity; only some areas, such as Al Salamah had salt water because it was supplied with water wells. After that we stopped using water wells and we used Al Dhaid’s water through the Fujairah-Al Ain line.”
Mr Saleh said 7.2 million gallons of water a day was pumped to UAQ from two sources: a water desalination plant in UAQ that provides five million gallons; and the main Fujairah-Al Ain pipeline that has a connecting point in Al Dhaid in Sharjah. The latter supplies 2.2 million gallons.
“The Fujairah-Al Ain pipeline is free of salts. Using it led to a decrease in the salinity in Al Salamah by 50 to 60 per cent.”