Waste Management in Jeddah

Jeddah, a major commercial hub in the Middle East, is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. Solid waste management is a big problem in Jeddah as the city’s population is increasing at a rapid pace and has now touched 3.5 million. More than 5,000 tons of solid waste is produced every day and Jeddah municipal authorities are finding it increasingly hard to cope with the problem of urban waste.

The management of solid waste in Jeddah begins with collection of wastes from bins scattered across residential and commercial areas. Wastes is collected and sent to transfer stations from where it ultimately goes to the dumping site. Most of the MSW is disposed in the landfill facility at Buraiman which receives approximately 1.5 million tons of waste per year and has an expected lifespan of between 30 and 40 years.

Buraiman or (Almusk) Lake, has been the dumping site of Jeddah's sewage wastewater for more than a decade. Wastewater accumulates in underground cesspools and then transported by truck tankers to the sewage lake. The lake lies in east of Jeddah within the catchment of Wadi Bani Malek at about 130m above mean sea level. It contains more than 10 million cubic meters of sewage water spread over an area of 2.88 km2.

The sewage lake has caused some wells in Jeddah to become poisoned due to raw sewage leaking into aquifers. Some studies have reported that water table under Jeddah is rising at 50cm per year which is attributed to the inflow of untreated sewage. As the only dumpsite for municipal sewage and industrial waste, Buraiman Lake is continuously increasing in size, constantly moving towards the south, and is now reported to be only three kilometres away from city houses.

The lake was created as a stopgap measure to deal with the increasing amounts of wastewater in the growing city. Jeddah's residents use an estimated 200 litres of water per capita per day. The lake was to be used for depositing this water until a functioning sewage system was created. But plans were delayed because of inadequate funding. As 70 percent of Jeddah households are not connected to sewerage pipelines, wastewater accumulates in underground cesspools and later transported by lorries to Buraiman Lake.

About 50,000 cubic metres of water are transported to the 2.5 million square-metre lake each day. Only a small percentage of the waste water from the remaining 30 per cent of Jeddah households goes to treatment plants for purification before being dumped in the Red Sea. Most of the waste water that is accumulated through pipes is dumped directly into the sea without purification.

Keeping in view the prevalent waste management scenario, Jeddah municipality is continuously seeking ways to develop city’s sewage treatment infrastructure. However, the current infrastructure is incapable of handling the present generation of raw sewage, leading to the continued storing untreated sewage at Buraiman Lake and dumping the remaining portion directly into the Red Sea. 

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About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA and a renowned expert in waste management, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainability. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on environment and sustainability sector in the Middle East and regularly consulted on environmental projects by top firms in the region and beyond. Salman is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on clean energy, environment and sustainability through his websites, blogs, articles and projects. He has participated in numerous conferences as session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is a prolific professional cleantech writer and has authored numerous articles in reputed journals, magazines and newsletters. He holds Masters and Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering and can be contacted on salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com
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6 Responses to Waste Management in Jeddah

  1. Jordi says:

    This is an example of how a problem like MSW must have a global approach. 
    It is important to give a solution to all kind of generated waste and only use landfills for a very small % of the MSW.
    Another great &  detailed article!

    • Salman Zafar says:

      Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. Urgent steps are needed to solve waste management problems in Jeddah.

  2. Mr salman zafar  how r u
    sir  iam also liveing in jeddah we have small weste managment for city wast lastic recycling 
    i have plan start mani  think  i want to meet you
    i evry time i red your comment   
    thanks  0567781327 

  3. Nino says:

    A sound environmental concern is a continuous challenge, in The Third World, waste is now a potential means of livelihood, because recycling turns into cash!

  4. ran says:

    Hello
    I appreciate your efforts. However, I have noticed that all the date for this article and all the comment were wrote during 2012 and 2013. This means that this article has been written after the problem of Buraiman Lake had been solved and that happened in 2010.
    Here is a link for an article in a newspaper that report this information
    http://www.al-madina.com/node/268343
    thank you

  5. Alaa says:

    Dear Salman,

    Thank you for the valuable information. I am doing my dissertation in waste management in Jeddah and Portsmouth. The article was very beneficial, and i was wondering if you can give me some resources for more data, and perhaps an interview with you if you have the time or at least some organisations where i can go and make some interviews to help me completing my project.

    Regards

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