Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Sharjah Water Disruption - A Lesson In Communication?

Česky: Pitná voda - kohoutek Español: Agua potable
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many, many years ago I was on a business trip to Austria when some loon or another decided to dump a dhow-load of dead cows into the Gulf off Sharjah. The resulting flotsam got caught up in the intake of Sharjah's main desalination plant, causing a shutdown and an Emirate-wide water shortage.

I arrived back clutching a couple of bottles of nice German sekt to find our water tanks draining fast. Soon enough, we'd run dry. Three increasingly dirty days later I decided enough was enough and popped to our local 'cold store' where I bought several cases of Masafi. These filled the bath quite nicely, thank you, and we popped a bottle of cold sekt and enjoyed a little taste of the life everyone at home believes for some reason we live every day - we bathed in spring water and drank champagne.

I'd better get the bubbly in, because it's all apparently set to happen again. Khaleej Times broke the story three days ago (Gulf News ran it as a NIB today) - from next week (November 28th to be precise), Sharjah's main desalination plant at Al Layyah will undergo maintenance with six days of 'disruption' to the water supply. Interestingly, the GN story refers to a message  circulated to residents by SEWA (The Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority), which is news to me. It also refers to the 'Al Liya desalination plant', which is one of those problems we face with place names here - the Al Layyah plant, Sharjah's central power station and desalination plant, is located in the Al Layyah area, near Sharjah port. It's also the main centre for bottling Sharjah's Zulal branded water (although there's a new plant in Dhaid which bottles groundwater, thereby confusing anyone who wonders if Zulal is desalinated water or spring water. It's actually both, it would seem!).

Al Layyah is one of (as far as I can find out) four desalination plants in Sharjah - there are also plants in Khor Fakkan, Kalba and Hamriya. The GN piece refers to disruption in "Al Khan, Al Majaz, the Corniche, Khalid Lagoon and other areas", which is typically - and infuriatingly, obtuse. What are those 'other areas'? If last time is anything to go by, pretty much all of Sharjah. Why didn't the papers think to question the announcement and get better quality information into our hands? This type of question is the route to madness, of course. The answer is 'because'.

Of course, the best thing to do is go to SEWA's website which will have all the information concerned consumers will need, won't it? No, of course it won't. It'll have a piece on how SEWA has, apparently, briefed Credit Suisse on its future expansion plans. While I am pleased for both Credit Suisse and SEWA, it's not the information I'm after. The delightfully 1990s retro feel website contains absolutely no reference to the 'planned disruption' at all, in fact.

So all we know is there is to be  'planned disruption', that supply will not be cut off but that we are being urged to stockpile water while we can. Oh, and that "after the completion of the work, water supply would be better than before."

We are all mushrooms.

Update - I didn't think of this at the time of this post, but Sarah did. Of all the times in the year to pick for this 'scheduled disruption', they've picked National Day weekend, a holiday weekend when load on the system is going to go through the roof. Nice...
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5 comments:

Ghassan said...

"Obtuse" will forever remind me of the Shawshank Redemption:-)

Ghadeer said...

Oh Lord :/

Anonymous said...

I was looking for places in Sharjah to live during the disruption, as i stay in between all the places mentioned in news- ended up in your article. Since you look quite knowledgable - By any chance do you know the best drinking water in UAE ( Non - deslainated and yes natural? ) I take Arwa as someone said it contains the least Na, which is the factor for people putting on weight in here.
Ny advise?
Thanks

Alexander McNabb said...

Well, I'm not sure about being knowledgeable, but Arwa is a bottled water product from the Coca Cola company, a competitor to Aquafina. It's basically filtered 'public source' water (ie: tap) with a mineral mixture provided by Coke added to it.

I have always personally drunk Masafi, which is bottled spring water. But chaque a son goute!

Watchman said...

Hi Alex,
I expect another quite interesting post from you about your experience of pre and post-disruption days.

STAY WITH US AND WE WILL BE BACK AFTER A SHORT (6 DAYS) BREAK.

Good Luck.

Steve

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