Jeddah is the most significant commercial city in the Kingdom (CIA, 2008).
The growth of the city over the last fifty years and particularly in the
last thirty has been rapid and diverse. The earliest establishment of
Jeddah as a coastal settlement and transit point for eastern trade has
not been dated clearly but there probably was some type of settlement
2500 years ago (Saudi Network, 2008). Figure 1 shows
the location of Jeddah within Saudi Arabia. Significant changes have been
taking place over the last city 50 years and particularly since the 1960s.
In the development of the city, many activities took place without a strong
concern about the environment.
It is notable that there although already has been certain studies to
identify the extent of the environmental issues in Jeddah by different
agencies, much of the work that has been done is still not comprehensive
or technical enough for immediate use for engineering activities or environmental/social/economic
assessments (MEPA, 1994). The results of the short projects do not present
all the data required to solve the issues.
In view of the above-mentioned deficiencies, this study seeks to compile
data on environmental issues in Jeddah. Through a comprehensive review
of available studies done on the environment of Jeddah area the important
environmental issues were identified. These were grouped according to
the resource base: water, air, land and marine. The management issue was
also addressed. In this study special focus was given on water pollution.
Descriptions include: the present status; the trends that are occurring
is it growing rapidly; the number of people affected; the severity of
the issue in terms of health and safety; the severity in terms of economic
costs to the community; what is known about the issue and what actions
have been taken or recommended.
||Location of Jeddah. (a) Map of Saudi Arabia, (b) Enlarged
view of location of Jeddah (Adapted from CIA, 2008)
DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
The past development patterns of Jeddah greatly influence the conditions
that face the management of the city and the environment today. Significant
changes have been taking place over the last 50 years and particularly
since the 1960s. Perhaps the most notable factor that has influenced
the growth of Jeddah is the increase in supply of fresh water (Haddadin,
2002), favoring population growth. Prior to 1287H (1970 G) when the first
plant was installed (Kindasa), water from the natural sources of wells
and cisterns was limited and expensive. This factor probably limited population
and commercial growth of Jeddah.
Since, 1962 Jeddah has expanded and continues to expand at an unpredictable
rate. For instance, during the development of the long range plan in 1390
H (1970 G), the Municipal Planning department predicted that the population
would reach to 1.5 million people by the year 1995, while in fact it reached
over 2 million people by 1994. Jeddah covered approximately 1200 km2
at that time. The growth continues to date (Saudi Network, 2008).
Today there are many integrated management issues that relate not only
to water, but also the air, land and the marine resources of Jeddah. Growth
is also occurring outside of Jeddah that impacts on the resources of the,
municipality. Water management however is still the most significant issue
and the most complex (Abderrahman, 2000).
Concerns about the environmental quality of the city are relatively
new. Unfortunately, the development activities were accompanied by environmental
degradation. Jeddah has been extended in a north/south pattern with most
of the residential areas in the north and the industrial areas to the
south. The development has also extended out into the sea along the reef
flats to utilize the attractive coastal areas for the Corniche and residential
areas (Loya, 1975). The impacts of development have been to alter the
natural drainage, to restrict the possibilities of the development of
municipal services such as sewers and to create a pattern of travel that
has a flow of people from one direction (the north) to the central business
areas and the industrial areas of the south. With the greater number of
people and the physical growth of the city (now 1500 km2),
issues of environmental quality and the relationship with the economics
of managing a major urban city are being recognized .
General Environmental Issues
It is recognized that impacts from one activity are not independent
of the impacts form other activities. Resolution of one impact or environmental
issue does not always result in a complete solution. In metropolitan areas
this becomes more evident due the multiplicity of issues.
In any developing city, there are other environmental management issues:
solid and hazardous waste disposal; air quality deterioration; natural
hazards such as flooding and coastal management. As indicated water management
is perhaps the most complex of theses issues for Jeddah. There are many
needs; servicing of a large population with domestic and industrial water
supply; treating and disposing of sewage; draining of water from both
natural and man-made sources and managing a major marine environment for
commercial and recreational uses. All of this effort is done to provide
people with a healthy and safe environment at a reasonable economic and
The issues of waste management are somewhat similar to the issues
of water management-several interrelated issues with a core priority problem
(hazardous waste). Less known about the hazardous waste issue yet the
dynamic waste management activities are not in themselves seen as a major
problem. The other waste issues are smaller in scope and are of lower
priority. Present management activities are generally handing the problems
(Dincer, 2000). Any plans of action for these other waste issues should
consider the relationship to hazardous waste management.
Hazardous Waste Management
This issue is occurring throughout the kingdom. MEPA (Meteorological
and Environmental Protection Administration) is presently developing a
program that will eventually lead to a national level strategy to deal
with these wastes. Basic to the management of these types of waste is
a comprehensive inventory of what is being produced, quantities etc. in
addition the establishment of standards is needed in order to evaluate
various alternative solutions. This action is presently being taken and
will be applied to Jeddah. It is essential that MEPA coordinators with
the municipality and the industries in this respect (MEPA, 1994).
It is not clear as to the next steps in developing solutions to the issue.
The principles to follow include: the sharing of information, (using the
coordination office in the municipality for example); ensuring that a
process is defined that will go beyond simply doing an inventory and ensuring
that the other aspects of waste management are considered i.e., the program
is dealt with in framework of boarder waste management. Integral to the
development of the program is the integration of the information requirements
that will be needed o complete EIAs. Thus the data design and collection
and the decision-making process to develop alternative means of resolving
the issue, should recognize that an EIA will be required for the development
of any future waste disposal sites.
Two significant sources of air pollution are impacting on the health
of people and environment of the city (Osman, 1997; Stern, 2005). The
stationary sources are of high priority for action. The sources include
the Jeddah oil refinery, the desalinization plant, the power generation
plant and several industries on the Jeddah industrial area. Other less
evident and small scale activities influence neighborhoods in Jeddah.
The second source is mobile including all forms of transportation. This
is of lower priority for action within the context of this study but not
in terms of national action (Dossing et al., 1994).
There have been actions taken to reduce the levels pollution from the
stationary sources but the results are poor. In terms of mobile sources
the issue is national in scope and is being dealt with there.
For the stationary sources, the technology is available. Compliance to
standards does not take place (Ahmed, 1990). Until the industries comply
the situation will not improve. Actions that will continue are monitoring
of the air quality and continuing pressure on the industries. New industrial
developments should be restricted to well define areas in the city and
should be using the most up-to-date technology.
The water balance in the Jeddah area that is the supply, use and removal
of water, has changed rapidly with the growth of Jeddah. In the early
history of Jeddah water was a very scarce and expensive commodity (MEPA,
1994). The natural environment through rain and ground water could not
supply the needs. Over the last years significant infrastructure has been
established to provide residents throughout city with dependable water
supply. Today, however, increased volumes and mixed contents of the water
used in Jeddah that must be disposed of, is greater than the environments
natural ability to remediate it (Haddadin, 2002).
The supply of fresh water to the area comes from the desalinization of
sea water from both the large plant and many smaller facilities and from
the natural supplies of rain in the watershed east of Jeddah (Abderrahman,
2000; Magram and Azeem, 2008). The disposal of large volumes of used and
often polluted water through natural drainage and man-made engineering
works is difficult and expensive to mange (Hussain and Al-Saati, 1999).
The local geological structures and natural channels that had in the past
handled the natural runoff have been altered significantly by human settlement
and filling and groundwater, the city storm water drainage and sewer systems
and the marine environment. This in turn has had cumulative on the natural,
social and economic environment of Jeddah.
Past and present disposal of natural and used water from domestic and
industrial users has created unacceptable conditions in downtown Jeddah
and along the marine areas (Gladstone et al., 1999). It is now
expensive to fix these conditions. With continued urban expansions, future
disposal plans need to be made organizing the earlier problems encountered.
There must be anticipation of new environmental and socio-economic consequences
of developmental decisions.
The issue at Arbaeen lagoon is well known (Loya, 1975). The lagoon
has been receiving large amounts of sewage for along period of time and
has not been able to assimilate it naturally (Fig. 2).
The lagoon is relatively closed, (more so since the bridge has been constructed)
thus, there is a slow exchange of water with the sea. This situation results
in low oxygen content in the water. Marine life in the Lagoon can not
exist and the high potential of the area as an attractive and valuable
resource is negated, in addition, this lack of oxygen does not allow any
of the material entering the lagoon, sewage or other decaying matter,
to biodegrade naturally (MEPA, 1994). The result has been a build up of
sludge; this volume of material has further reduced the exchange of water
and oxygen in the lagoon. The end result of all these circumstances is
the continuous generation of odors and the creation an unhealthy environment
(Jones et al., 1998).
Many solutions have been proposed by Gladstone et al. (1999).
The general problem is that the resolution of this odor issue is highly
related to the resolution of other water management issues particularly
the sewage treatment system for entire city. Actions are being taken to
eliminate present sewage dumping in the lagoon but these measures are
expensive and should probably be done in the broader and longer term context
of sewage treatment for the entire city.
|| Sewage discharge sites around Arbaeen Lagoon (adapted
from Haddadin, 2002)
To relieve the present problem of bad odors the following measures may
be taken : to eliminate the raw sewage from the present sewage discharges;
to improve the water quality of the lagoon and to resolve the future problems
of the sludge. In the long run it may also be desirable to increase the
natural exchange of water in the lagoon improves the total value of this
unique area in the center of the city.
The existing capacity for sewage treatment, collection and disposal can
not handle the present volumes (Alaboud and Magram, 2008; Azeem and Magram,
2008). Facilities are working over their design capacity (Fig.
3). Raw sewage is being dumped into areas such as Arbaeen Lagoon resulting
in the unacceptable odors in the central business district. It is also
suspected that other sources of sewage caused by back-ups and flooding
are ending up in the storm water drainage system and eventually into the
harbour area. This too may be a secondary source of odors along the Cornich
and downtown areas.
New developments in the northern part of the city are not being hooked
up with the sewage system so that removal by pumping to trucks and on-site
disposal or treatment is the only alternatives (MEPA, 1994). In some cases
for residences and commercial developments along the coast, there is direct
dumping into the sea. There are continues occurrences of flooding due
to backups of the sewage in turn gets into the other storm drainage system
and eventually the sea. Odor problems develop in many areas of the city.
In the industrial areas, there is an industrial waste water treatment
plant (Abderrahman, 2001). It was not designed to handle the types of
waste generated by the many and varied industries (>400 industries
in the Jeddah industrial city). There is also a problem generated at the
S.T.P.s when industrial waste is brought to these facilities. The operation
of the S.T.P becomes ineffective when non-biodegradable organic compounds
are disposed of through these aerobic systems.
||Sewage treatment facilities working over their capacities
(adapted from Azeem and Magram, 2008)
There are also problems of developing new S.T.P facilities in the areas
that need them (Alaboud and Magram, 2008). In North Jeddah, even if there
was a treatment plant in place, the disposal of treated material to the
sea is hindered by the intensity of shoreline development. Land owners
in the area would not like to see treated sewage disposed next to their
residential or commercial developments.
There have been several recommendations made to resolve the issue in
Arbaeen Lagoon area. Stopping the discharge of sewage into Lagoon is the
first step. Likewise for the reminder of the coast, the owners of sources
of discharges are being identified and notifications to stop are being
sent. It is still unknown at this time as to what are the best ways to
resolve the entire issue regarding odor and water quality in the lagoon
area. Plans are being developed and implement to deal with the sewage
capacity problems in the city however these require time to implement
and significant financial expenditures.
Sewage Removals and On-Site Treatment
A significant area (approximately 66% of Jeddah) does not have access
to central sewage treatment facilities (Fig. 4, 5).
Much of the area is located in the northern part of Jeddah (MEPA, 1994).
Sewage is collected in on-site tanks or vaults, picked up by truck and
disposed of at collection lakes to the northeast of Jeddah or simply in
the desert. On site disposal occurs through deep wells, treatment through
septic and leaching systems and through direct disposal in the sea. The
problems that are arising include: the capacity of the present lake/disposal
site has been reached and a new location is being developed near Briman;
there is a rise in the level of the ground water in the area of north
Jeddah believed to be the result of this supply of water and there is
contamination of the ground water due to these disposal practices.
These conditions will tend to increase with population increases. It
will affect the people in North Jeddah. With increase rises in the ground
water, there will be salinization of the water affecting vegetation in
the areas. The rise in ground water will reduce the effectiveness of any
on-site septic and leaching facilities. As ground water continues to rise
there is a greater potential for the problem to migrate to the central
areas of Jeddah (Al-Jayyousi, 2003).
|| Sewage treatment plants and serviced areas (adapted
from MEPA, 1994)
The desalinization of water creates several environmental issues. In terms
of water issues, two main impacts are of concern, the impact on the marine
ecosystems due to thermal pollution and the elevated levels of salt and
chlorine in the return waters (Beaumont, 2000); these impacts vary with
the volumes of water and the location where the discharge takes place,
for example in shallow or deep water.
In Jeddah several desalinization plants are serving the general population
and specific facilities (Abderrahman, 2000). The total volume of water
produced and the actual locations of all the plants is not known but for
example the Port Authority and Airport produce in total approximately
11 million gallons per day. The Jeddah Sea Water Conversion Company (SWCC-desalinization
plant) supplies the largest volume of water, 384.000 cubic meters per
day. The present consumption of water per capita in Jeddah is less than
in Riyadh. It might be expected that with further diversification of industry
in the Jeddah area increases in per capita growth will also increase the
total consumption of water. This growth will result increased production
needs from the plants and therefore may increase the impacts on the marine
environment. Some initial work has been done on determining the impacts
on the marine environment. Some initial work has been done on determining
the impacts of thermal pollution but no conclusions were made (MEPA, 1994).
|| Sewage and drainage discharges to the Red sea (adapted
from MEPA, 1994)
Flooding and Storm Drainage
Flooding due to the intensive thunderstorms in the region is a concern
for both human safety and also economic coasts due to damage caused to
private and public property and infrastructure. Food and drainage problem
areas limit development or increase the coasts to develop and service.
There will be a trend to develop more housing and industrial activities
in these areas, such as Wadi Fatima, as demands for land in the city increase
|| Major storm drainage and discharges (adapted from MEPA,
There is a conflict between the natural drainage system through the municipal
area and the pattern of urban development (Al-Aama and Nakhla, 1995).
As a result considerable canalization has had to be carried out of direct
flood waters from developed areas and the transportation corridors (Fig.
6). There are interrelated problems with high ground water and sewage
disposal, particularly with the deep wells, holding tanks and septic fields.
There are still areas that are regularly flooded in the developed areas
of the city and in areas that could be developed if and when drainage
projects are completed. Maintenance of the drainage systems is expensive
and requires continuous operations. This is well defined in the reports
prepared by the Municipal Engineering Department. There are some areas
where development has occurred such that additional drainage works can
not be provided. There are also developments that are occurring on flood
prone areas. Filling flood plains and adding development may restrict
flood water flows and can cause problems in the upper water courses (For
example a potential problem may develop at Obhur Creek and Medina Highway).
Alterations of natural draining can also change fresh water and nutrient
regimes in the marine, salt marsh and mangrove areas (Gladstone et
The level of ground water in many parts of Jeddah is rising rapidly. In
places it is less that a meter from the surface. The trend for high ground
water is increasing with the development of the city and the increased
amounts of water used (Haddadin, 2002). About 100,000 cubic meters per
day of sewage is presently dumped in the northeast part of Jeddah and
is making its way into the area of north Jeddah with no means of escape
to the sea. The soil conditions in the region are such that drainage is
not good. As rains occur and drain through these areas, there is no extra
capacity for the ground to absorb the runoff.
The impacts of ground water rising include (Abderrahman, 2000): damage
to cement due to chemical content of the water; damage to drainage and
transportation infrastructure; interference with sewage infrastructure
and major hazards to people and property. It increases the construction
and maintenance costs of all developments. It reduce the effectiveness
of on-site sewage treatment and can potential cause health problems if
sewage enters this water.
There also have been concerns raised about the quality of the ground
water that might be drained into the sea. The salinity is very high (2
times that of sea water) as is the hardness. This was initially through
to be a problem if the discharge of ground water was to occur near the
intakes for the desalinization plant (SWCC).
With increased development in areas requiring sewage pumping (and thus
increased dumping of swage), cesspools, increase irrigation and the natural
conditions of intense rainfall occurrences, there will be a trend for
increased problems related to a high ground water table.
Studies at the university sponsored by the department of sanitation and
water have been continuing on the problems of ground water.
The small lakes/lagoons found along the Corniche do not have adequate
or any access to the sea and therefore are not refreshed regularly (Beaumont,
2002). Conditions in these areas do not support any water contact activities
or marine life. The areas are attractive and are a major part of the entire
Corniche design. The water in the area can become stagnant and develop
unsightly conditions and odors thus negating the attractiveness of the
area. Over a long period these locations may become a larger problem as
nutrient rich water used for the maintenance of the vegetation around
the lakes increases the rate of eutrophication (MEPA, 1994).
The full scope of the water issues is not known due the complexity of
the relationship of water supply, water and sewage disposal, drainage,
geological and soil structures and growing development demands.
This section summarizes the issues of the study and presents in total
the actions that should be considered in order to resolve the high priority
It is evident from the review of past studies that most issues impact
on several resources and that they also cross over many operational programs.
This emphasizes the need for coordination to ensure the environmental
quality of the city is maintained or improved. It is also evident that
with a regular coordination mechanism in place, implementation of decisions
could be monitored assist in any joint coordination actions.
There are however some fundamental problems facing the management agencies
responsible for alleviating the problem. In addition, there are problems
of enforcement of approved environmental standards and controls. In some
cases, there is a complex interrelationship between agencies dealing with
issues: e.g., ground water, drainage, sewage treatment and urban development.
There are cases where interrelationships between activities are not understood
or there is an obvious lack of base information to make decisions. Some
limitations as follows may be identified:
||Lack of basic information and or the sharing of information
that is already available
||Lack of comprehensive city wide research to determine the alternative
technical approaches to solve the problems
||Lack of clear responsibility to resolve the issue and implement
||Lack of a forum to resolve conflicts or to assist in interdisciplinary
||Lack of enforcement capability including laws, regulations, training,
standards and management guidelines
||The problem of the allocation of limited funds to deal with the
It became evident over the review of past studies and recommendations
that a significant problem in solving the environmental issues related
to issues of integrated environmental management.
Environment is seen by many as simply clean water, clean air and having
wastes removed from their own backyard. The environment management issues
go beyond the already complex take of delivering all the municipal services
of a major urban center. Issues of health, public safety, economic development,
sustaining resources for the future, social benefits of recreation, public
education etc. are all involved in environmental management. This is a
complex problem facing many institutions. Each has other primary responsibilities
to deliver public services to department and program had their normal
problems in implementation. These problems can not independently be identified
as the major weakness in proving sound environmental management for the
Researches indicated that much of the decision making carried out at
the municipal level could be described as incremental/ incrementalism
means anon-comprehensive analysis made prior to actions. The research
was done in connection with the development of the Corniche.
There is no single agency with a mandate to manage the environment in
Jeddah-nor is there any group that coordinates or facilitates environmental
management in the city. However, it is equally evident that there is no
case where an organization does not have concern and activities that are
directed at operating in an environmentally responsible manner.
In many cases the technical answers to solve the environmental problems
are known or can be developed/designed. Implementing solution is more
difficult due to several factors:
||A lack of a common information base on the extent and
impacts of development activities on the entire environment
||A lack of knowledge about the interrelationships amongst various
department and private sector development and management activities
||A lack of knowledge about how various activates impact on environment
and particularly cumulative impacts
||A lack of communication amongst organizations about relevant programs,
projects and information
||Unclear common priorities to deal with environmental issues
||Inadequate and or uncoordinated budgets allocations
||A lack of defined enforcement responsibility or the means of enforcing
||A lack of effective monitoring of compliance with plans and standards
||Lack of training of enough staff to effectively identify and address
||The public (including the development sector) are not informed about
their roles and responsibilities environmental management in the city
In the development of the city, many activities took place without a
strong concern about the environment. Through a comprehensive review of
available studies done on the environment of Jeddah area, the important
environmental issues were identified in this review study. This study
is prepared as an initial step in a longer process to resolve environmental
issues. There are some issues that have yet to be identified. There are
probably reports that have not yet been reviewed that have relevant data
and recommendations. There are already actions taking place by the appropriate
agencies to remedy some of these issues and others. This present inventory
of issues and the resulting action plans; need to be updated by a broader
group of managers to make it more comprehensive before major costly actions