and municipal officials have warned of a large-scale environmental
disaster looming over Jeddah. They said the city was sitting atop a
lake with 80 million cubic meters of contaminated sewage water.
at a seminar on the environmental impact of sewage dumping in Jeddah
said the problem was further compounded by the fact that every day
700,000 cubic meters of sewage is discharged into the city underground
storage tanks locally known as “bayarat”.
Of this, only 50,000 cubic meters is pumped out and carried
away by trucks to the main dump site outside Jeddah where a huge lake
has already formed and begun overflowing. The rest seeps into the soil
further raising the water table.
Mayor Dr. Abdul Fattah Fouad called for a joint effort involving the
public and private sectors to tackle the problem saying people’s
active involvement was essential to make the move successful.
Addressing the seminar at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and
Industry last night, Dr. Fouad said a joint effort led by Makkah
Governor Prince Abdul Majeed, and involving the municipality,
government bodies and the newly established Jeddah Utility Company is
under way to solve the problem. No timetable has been laid down but
the problem will be overcome in stages as there are no magic
solutions, the mayor said.
to Dr. Adil Bushnak, member of the consultancy board of the Supreme
Economic Council, the current sewage network in Jeddah covers only 10
percent of the city and serves 30 percent of its 2.6 million
population. A colossal sum has to be invested for the expansion of the
network which requires digging of
80 kilometers of underground tunnel, 700 kilometers of main
lines and 10,000 kilometers of subsidiary lines.
is urgent need for a radical plan to expand the network to serve an
additional 1.8 million people. Only a very small portion of sewage
water is treated at plants which are of unsatisfactorily low
efficiency. Large quantities go aground while water accumulating at
the lake outside the city is polluting underground water. There is an
urgent need for additional treatment plants,” said Dr. Bushnak who
is member of Jeddah Utility Company. The firm is a subsidiary of the
Jeddah Holding Company which is seeking a concession to build, operate
and maintain the city water and sewage network.
said 1,000 trucks roam the city streets round the clock to pump sewage
from the bayarat on streetsides to carry it to the main dumpsite. Each
truck makes an average of three trips a day, but they only take a
fraction of the sewage stored in these tanks. Hundreds of thousands of
meters of contaminated water are left behind to seep into the soil
with the result that the level of ground water, which was eight to ten
meters 20 years ago, rose to just three to four meters. He appealed to
local investors to join the effort to overcome the problem.
A study by
Dr. Muhammad Qari of King Abdul Aziz University on the city’s main
sewage dump has shown that the area affected by seepage from the lake
is widening each day. Satellite pictures taken from a height of 700
kilometers confirmed this. The lake has an area of 612,000 square
meters and a storage capacity of 2.5 million cubic meters. A high dirt
wall built to control the overflow has failed to stop the seepage.
said analysis of water samples had shown that water in the area
contained 70 times more lead than usual. “Another problem is that
many farmers in the area invite the truck drivers to pump sewage water
directly into their farms. We found out that some animals living in
the area have died of contamination.”
farmers operate small treatment units before pumping the water to
irrigate their crops. Dr.
Qari suggested the building of a new dumpsite to reduce pressure on
the existing one, but Dr. Fouad said he was not in favor of such
plans. Instead, he suggested setting up of more treatment plants and
development of a green belt around the area where millions of trees
can be planted for commercial use.