Qatar needs to place storm water management design and landscaping as too many "impervious surfaces" combined with the presence of high level of sulphur content in the soil don't allow the water to percolate underground causing water-logging in many low-lying areas, an expert of urban planning told The Peninsula.
"It could be that there is no ready storm water management design and landscaping, as well as too many impervious surfaces that don't allow the water to infiltrate into the ground. Additionally, there is little consideration of the topography in urban and landscape planning and in infrastructure planning and building roads," Dr Anna Grichting Solder, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning at Qatar University replied in an e-mail note to this newspaper.
The Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning yesterday said that it drained out over two million gallons of accumulated rain water from roads, roundabouts and residential areas during the last three days. While the topography of the city may seem flat, there is always a slope which has to be considered for storm and heavy rain water management.
Water-logged streets could still be spotted at low-lying areas across the country even after few days of light rain. "You have to design where the water will flow," Solder added.
Although Qatar, due to its geographical location, usually witnesses scanty rain-fall, many who have been living here for several decades can recall heavy rains in the past.
"I am here for the past 17 years. Whenever there is a good rain; there is water-logging. As far as my memory goes, the water logging was the worst in 2006, the year when Qatar hosted the Asian Games," recalls an Indian expatriate.
Another Indian living at Ain Khaled (near Islamic center) area said: "I had to struggle to cross many deep and long water-logging on the road while coming to office at Matar Qadeem for the fourth consecutive day. Many car owners, with low chassis, first stop on the road and think twice before getting into the water fearing an engine shutdown." Asked, if it could be viable to pump out heavy water-logging keeping in view of the extraordinarily slow process of seepage, Dr Solder added: "As I said, we need to design landscapes and infrastructures for storm water management.
"Even if it does not rain often, we should avoid unnecessary pumping, and harness the rainwater to benefit the landscape and avoid flooding."
On the question of economic viability of harnessing rain waters for gardening, car wash, and other domestic uses, she said: "Yes it is (viable), good landscaping and drainage with a recycling system will allow for this."
With Qatar aspiring to have more green areas, it needs to optimize the utilization of each and every drop of water. As most of its water is sourced from desalination plants, it can be a good idea to accumulate the scarce rain water the country receives.
She added: "All water, especially rain water, must be harnessed, and used to the best advantage. Desalination has an adverse effect on the environment so we must recycle and harness any water we can."