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Title: Environmental impact assessment for the proposed resort development GA. Maareha
Authors: Sandcays
Keywords: Legislative and regulatory consideration
Existing environment
Stakeholder consultations
Impacts and mitigation measures
Environmental monitoring
Issue Date: Jul-2012
Citation: Sandcays. (2012). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed resort development GA. Maareha. Male': Maldives
Abstract: This report addresses the environmental concerns of the proposed development of a resort on Maareha, Gaafu Alifu Atoll. The island is about 16.5hectares in its size and is located on a shared reef system at the eastern side of Gaafu Alifu Atoll. The Proponent of the proposed development is Moving International Pvt. Ltd., a company registered in the Maldives for the purpose of establishing Maareha as a tourist resort in connection with the development of a domestic airport on Maavaarulu in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. The Proponent proposes to develop a modern resort on Maareha with 100 rooms on land and 50 rooms in the lagoon with 2 restaurants, a coffee house, swimming pool, Dive Center, Water Sports Center, Sports Center with gymnasium, Wellness Center or Spa, a theatre, Kids Center with day care services, arrival and service jetties with mooring area or harbour, staff village with shops and different utilities including desalination plant, sewage treatment plant, waste management center and powerhouse. Removal of seagrass beds on the east……. The proposed development will conform to all current environmental legislation including the Regulation on the Protection and Conservation of the Environment in the Tourism Industry. The main negative impact of the proposed development will be the impact of sedimentation on the areas of the housereef on the west where the proposed harbour and access channel will be developed and the impact of deforestation due to land clearance for proposed buildings. These impacts are inevitable. Yet, every effort will be made to minimize the impact and footprint of the impact. The impact of sedimentation on the reef will be minimized by undertaking the excavation at low tides and creating settlement basins as the dredging activity proceeds or by using silt screens. To minimize the impact of deforestation, buildings will be designed around mature trees minimizing their removal. If a mature tree were to be removed, they will be carefully uprooted and transplanted elsewhere. Impact of water villas is considered to be minor negative given that they are in the lagoon and at a considerable distance from the housereef. The minor negative impacts of the water villas include impacts on sediment transport around the northwestern side of Maareha and some minor degree of sedimentation on the reef nearby. There will be no impact on neighbouring Medhuhutta, which is about 50m, due to the strong currents in the channel between the two islands (over 0.5m/s) helping them to behave as two separate littoral systems. However, there are uncertainties given the lack of data and hence monitoring hydrodynamics and changes to shoreline of both islands during the construction as well as operational phase will further help to evaluate this impact more accurately. To minimize this impact on longshore sediment transport, the walkways of water villas will stand on piles with their footings buried in the seabed. The impact of sedimentation will be minimized by taking care to move the water villas as far away from the live reef areas as possible and transplanting any live corals that may be directly impacted. Care will also be taken to minimize sedimentation on the reef when placing water villa footings and columns. Precast footings and columns will be used and excavator movements shall be minimized. Excavator is preferably moved on barge to minimize sedimentation and if high bed excavators were to be used, they shall move as far from coral reef flat areas as possible. This impact of sedimentation will be short-lived given that tidal and wind-driven currents would normally carry the sediments away from the reef at all tides and monsoons. It is vital, therefore, to monitor the condition of the reef prior to the start of works, during the works and after the works to establish the true nature of the impact. The other environmental impacts of the proposed development include solid waste management, water supply, sewage disposal and energy generation. Solid waste will be generated both during the constructional and operational phase of the resort. Constructional waste will be disposed of by the contractor, to Thilafushi if a regional landfill or waste management site does not exist. During the operational phase, a waste management center established on the island will segregate waste and dispose of them in a manner prescribed in tourism regulations. It is during the construction stage that the waste is often not managed properly and waste ends up in the environment. Therefore, it is vital that waste management procedures are in place during construction phase to ensure waste is appropriately dealt with. Supervision and awareness of construction workforce is highly recommended. Desalination, sewage treatment and power generation are fuel-dependent processes and fuel efficient desalination technology, STPs and, especially, generator sets will be installed in the island. Solar water heaters have been proposed and photovoltaic system incorporated, the costs of which have already been taken into consideration. Gravity sewers will deliver the sewage and only a single pumping station will be used. Treated effluent with low levels of BOD (less than 20mg/l) will be disposed to the sea at not less than 10m below MSL and 5m away from the reef edge. Therefore, the impact from sewage disposal will be almost negligible. In fact, the daily peak flows is quite small that the proposed sea outfall would provide over 500-fold dilution to the sewage effluent even if it were raw sewage, which would occur only in the unlikely event that the sewage treatment plant fails. Hence, no further mitigation measures have been considered for sewage disposal and treatment. The project encompasses clean technology and an initial investment worth a million dollars would be spent on solar energy system. This will complement the proposed diesel generator sets. In addition, solar water heaters will be installed to provide hot water to all guest units. Also, to minimize fuel and water consumption, it is proposed to install energy and water efficient technology including faucets. The costs of these have already been included in the project. Environmental monitoring has also been incorporated into the project. Arrangements for monitoring during constructional and operational phase will be considered immediately upon EIA approval. Monitoring will be undertaken according to the monitoring programme recommended in this report. Recommended monitoring for the project includes the monitoring of shoreline at predetermined and bench-marked tide level, beach profiles and drogues at locations given in the EIA report, marine water quality at the location of the intake, brine discharge, sea outfall and a control location, groundwater at a location close to the powerhouse and desalination plant and a control location and quality of product water at 3 specified locations including product water tank. Annual monitoring reports have to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency over the monitoring period and shall include fuel and water consumption data and greenhouse gas emission calculations. The overall environmental impacts of the project have been assessed using appropriate matrices and the results indicated that the proposed project has net positive impact. Given that the project has major socio-economic benefits although there would be some negative environmental impacts, it is recommended to allow the project to proceed as proposed.
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