The Dehiwela canal, by day.
Colombo has open drains, which many canals have turned into. Run off (but not raw sewage) flows into open channels along the streets and between neighborhoods. These liquid alleys end up full of plastic, garbage, whatnot. The canals do sometimes get raw sewage from the wattes (slums or illegal settlements if you will) along their sides. Both drains and canals can be noxious to nose and eye.
On a sorta plus point, I did see the biggest kabaragoya ever (water monitor, I think) in a drain. Like, the size of me from tip to tail, with a formidable body. To me this was awesome and people stopped to look, but the thing could really eat a child. I guess it’s hanging around Mount Lavinia somewhere.
On a daily basis, however, these drains are not amusing. They’re just nasty. The drains on the side of the road are either open and nasty, or covered with dubious, wobbly Prince Of Persia tiles. These end up in wider rivers of muck that pass between houses. I’m not sure where these rivers end up, in canals or the sea.
Dead bird near drain alley
Something obviously isn’t right here. I think Colombo has a colonial era underground sewer (?) but Dehiwela and Mount seem to, not. It’s all out there in the open. That might vaguely work, but people treat the drains and canals as garbage dumps, and they inevitably get clogged. I have seen someone cleaning the drains once, which was kinda horrifying. The canals get dredged by floating cranes, but as long as people keep dumping, the problem persists.
In the Netherlands, living near a canal is desirable, but here it’s not. The people that do often treat it as a sorta back toilet or flowing garbage dump. I was walking along one today, however, and it could be quite beautiful. Today it didn’t even smell so bad.
Generally, however, it ain’t pretty. Drains are full of garbage and muck, not to mention plastic bags, rats and giant prehistoric lizards. The canals are also not so pretty, and they empty into the sea. The whole thing empties into the streets when it rains. Not to mention the eye-watering smell that sometimes comes offa the standing water, and the mosquitos. Stankonia.