JEDDAH – A leading municipal official has called on the Jeddah Mayoralty to tell residents what they are doing to protect the city from being flooded by the Misk Lake’s raw sewage if a big storm causes it to overflow.
Bassam Akhdr, a member of Jeddah’s Municipality Council and Chamber of Commerce and Industry, made this call yesterday in the wake of the floods that caused widespread destruction and a number of deaths in Jeddah on Wednesday.
He said he has consistently called on the Mayoralty to take action, but nothing has been done.
He said the water level in the lake has already risen by 10 meters and this presents a clear danger to all the residents in Jeddah, particularly, those in Eastern Jeddah.
If the water level rises significantly, Misk Lake’s polluted contents can flood the entire coastal city in less than two hours, as many experts believe, said Akhdr.
As a member of the Municipality Council, he said, he was aware of the fact that the Mayoralty had been warned that heavy rains might lash Jeddah, but that they had not taken these warnings seriously.
Akhdr said he will hold the Mayoralty accountable for any disaster the lake might cause.
He called for the immediate formation of a committee representing the Emirate, Civil Defense, Chamber of Commerce, Municipality Council, Ministry of Transport and relevant agencies to determine the danger posed by the lake.
He said the imminent threat of the lake stems from it being a reservoir for waste and polluted water.
It is also adjacent to the densely inhabited Al-Samer, Al-Rabea and Al-Jawad Districts.
He stressed the need for an urgent solution to the problem. He suggested that Jeddah’s authorities stop pumping waste into the lake.
The height of its banks should also be increased by 10 to 15 meters, he said.
Currently a total of 50,000 cubic meters of sanitary waste is pumped daily into the lake, which currently holds 30 million cubic meters of polluted water.
The Saudi Geological Survey Authority has said that the lake is already causing problems. Its dangerous unhealthy water is soaking into Jeddah’s soil, said Akhdr.
Following fears of the possibility of Misk Lake, east of Jeddah, flooding the city due to its rising water level contained only by sand barriers, Lt. Gen. Adel Zamzami, chief of the Civil Defense Department of the Makkah Region, said that a team visited the lake Friday and a report on its current situation would be filed to the Makkah Emirate.
But the situation at the lake is “reassuring as the water level is at normal,” he said.
However, at its height of 125 meters above sea level, a breakdown will see its entire contents flood into Jeddah, which lies at a lower height.
Akhdr also warned about the ageing and fragile infrastructure of Jeddah, which raises more questions that need to be answered by the responsible officials. – Okaz/SG