Record rainfall strains Dubai drainage system

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Dubai/ Sharjah: Heavy downpour in Dubai over the last few days has put a strain on the city’s drainage network leading to flooding on most roads and residential areas.

According to the Dubai Media Office, unusually heavy rain hit Dubai with rainfall reaching 150mm/hour for two and a half hours on Saturday.

However, the drainage network only has the capacity to hold 30-40mm rainwater per hour, according to a senior official.

“We have not seen this much of rain in many years,” Taleb Julfar, CEO of Dubai Municipality for Infrastructure Services Sector, told Gulf News.

The last time the UAE witnessed such vast amounts of rain was reportedly 24 years ago according to the National Centre of Meteorology which also carried out several cloud seeding sessions to enhance the rainfall.

“During the whole year, usually we only have a few days’ rain,” the official said, explaining why it was not necessary to have a bigger system earlier.

Julfar said pond parks in Dubai have also been built to help in accommodating storm water during the peak time of rainfall.

“If it peaks, a lot of rainwater goes to these pond parks.”

When the amount of rainfall goes beyond the capacity of the network and ponds in the parks, the municipality has to pump out rainwater from several areas.

Dubai Media Office on Sunday announced that Dubai Municipality pumped out 1.3 million cubic meters of rainwater pumped out in 24 hours.

Apart from Dubai Municipality’s over 50 pumping stations for storm water, the service of 50 tankers and 50 mobile pumps were also utilised to pump out rainwater, said Julfar.

More than 3000 municipal employees had been battling to remove accumulated rainwater, uprooted trees and other waste and the damages caused by the downpour.

On Saturday, the civic body received 3100 calls on rain-related incidents.

Apart from working with the other government departments, the municipality also hired the service of private companies to address waterlogging, said Julfar.


Similarly, in Sharjah, municipality officials said that in some areas, there is no drainage network which led to waterlogging.

However, the municipality said it prepares a plan in advance and sends municipality tankers and mobile pumps to pump out storm water.

Hasan Al Tifaq, Assistant Director General for Agriculture and Environment, said Sharjah Municipality deployed more than 1,200 employees and 650 mobile pumps to clear waterlogging.

More than 15000 tanker loads of rain water was collected.

Thabit Salem Al Tarifi, Director General of Sharjah Municipality and Chairman of the Rain Emergency Committee, said that the municipality assisted the owners of the damaged vehicles in various streets, removed most trees that fell and replanted many of them.

The municipality also dealt with 7000 calls and complaints related to rain.

Pedestrians look for cover as Dubai witnesses heavy rains during the early hours of the day on 12th January, 2020. Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News
Street cleaners attempt to keep the roads and pavements clear after heavy winds and rains in Dubai on 12th January, 2020. Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News

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