Fish enjoy sewage effluent, which is discharged in every ½ hour interval from a sewer outfall around Malé
When children and others swim and bath in the waters around Malé, especially in the artificial beach and swimming tract in Malé, they could not imagine how close they are to sewer outfalls and how much the water in which they swim is contaminated with faecal and chemicals from these untreated sewer outfalls.
School children getting ready to take swimming lessons in the Swimming Tract in Malé, near a sewer outfall.
In past instances the swimming tract and artificial beach were closed for public for swimming and bathing due to complaints of higher sewer contamination.
According to the State of the Environment Report 2002, sewage effluent, potentially harmful substances and different chemicals are disposed untreated into coastal water of Male’ from nine pump stations by means of six sewer outfalls around Male’. “The pollution load from these sewer outfalls probably exceeds the dilution capacity of the receiving waters,” State of the Environment Report 2002 said.
Artificial Beach: One and Only Beach for 1/3 of Population of Maldives Living in Malé
Domestic sewage, industrial wastewater and clinical and lab waste water from photo and X-ray labs are discharged untreated from these six sewer outfalls into the sea and reefs around Malé.
The results of the discharge of untreated sewage effluent, sediment stress from harbor dredging and reclamation has affected coral reef around Malé and seriously degraded the reef compared to other islands. Except few resorts, sewage treatment is an alien business in the Maldives: most of the islands sewage effluent is disposed into ground by mean of septic tanks or untreated into sea.
There is potential impact of the untreated wastewater on the health of people and the environment, and the fear of these chemicals getting into the food chain.
The currents flowing around Malé and across Atolls in the Maldives reverse with the change in season, during Iruvaa (North East Monsoon- December-April) current flows from the North, and during Hulhagu (South West Monsoon- April-December), it’s the reverse. With change in season, the pattern of sewer contamination around Malé also changes.
Even in 2002 sewerage contamination from these outfalls exceeded the “dilution capacity of the receiving water”. Can you imagine the present level of sewage concentration around the coast of Malé after 7 years?
According to the Regulation on Protection and Conservation of Environment in the Tourism Industry, sewage from resorts, hotels and guesthouses have to be disposed in a manner that is least harmful to the environment. If this is the case, what is mindboggling is that this regulation is not enforced on hotels and guesthouses built in Malé.
If untreated sewage is not good for tourist resorts, why it good enough for more than 100,000 locals living in Malé and those in other outer islands?
Recently, the Constitution Assembly (People’s Special Majlis) has adopted the right to sewerage system as a fundamental human right. If untreated sewage is disposed into the sea and reefs, we wonder how many people’s right to a safe and healthy environment is violated in the Maldives.