Finnish Company Helps Provide Finished Water in Sri Lanka

Sept. 28, 2009
AMPARA, Sri Lanka, Sept. 28, 2009 -- Turnkey project by Finland-based mining specialist Outotec Oyj, on behalf of Sri Lanka's National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB), brings piped treated drinking water to 300,000 Sri Lankans living in remote Ampara District on east coast for first time...

• Turnkey project by global mining specialist brings piped treated drinking water to 300,000 in Sri Lanka's Ampara District for first time

Water from reservoirs in upper highlands is treated and piped to an area covering 500 km² courtesy of Outotec on behalf of Sri Lanka's National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB)AMPARA, Sri Lanka, Sept. 28, 2009 -- More than 300,000 people in a remote district of Sri Lanka are today enjoying quality drinking water due to a turnkey project undertaken by Outotec Oyj for Sri Lanka's National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB).
The NWS&DB project, built between 1999 and 2007 in the Ampara District, 350km from the capital Colombo, is comfortably coping with harsh local conditions, including unreliable power supply, limited maintenance, large seasonal raw water quality variations and fluctuations in demand.
"After more than two years from Phase II commissioning, the treatment plant is continuing to provide good quality water to consumers, within design targets, 24/7," said Outotec Project Director Steve Giffin, based in Sri Lanka.
The project -- which NWS&DB plans to follow with another covering a further 350,000 people -- is a source of satisfaction to Outotec, which undertakes turnkey projects throughout Asia and Australasia.
The Ampara District, on the east coast of Sri Lanka, is one of the least developed areas in the country, being semi-rural, affected by civil war and disturbance, with the completion of large-scale projects presenting a significant challenge.
In 1997, Sri Lanka's NWS&DB launched a programme to provide a large population of previously unserved communities with quality piped drinking water under its ECTAD (Eastern Coastal Towns of Ampara District) project.
Outotec was awarded the initial and subsequent phase of this project, carried out from 1999 to 2007. As the complete turnkey supplier, Outotec was tasked with the design, construction and commissioning of a water supply scheme, which was to provide piped water to 300,000 people in the Ampara District for the first time.
The National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWS&DB) is the principal government authority for the nation of Sri Lanka responsible for providing safe drinking water and sanitation for the population. A workforce of about 8,000 is employed nationwide.
Drinking Water Situation in Ampara District
The Ampara district is on the east coast of Sri Lanka, population circa 611,000, with a tropical climate and a long dry season. The district is rural and primarily agricultural, relying on a large irrigation network of reservoirs and canals for rice paddy farming.
There are water quality and scarcity issues with the traditional water sources, however, due to intensive farming and resultant fertilizer, soil and chemical run-off. In the densely populated coastal towns, limited land availability has resulted in some septic sanitation systems being installed very close to drinking water wells, with contamination common.
With a rapidly growing population that's nearly tripled over the last four deades, the need for pipe-borne safe water has never been greater in Ampara.
Implemented in two phases, the Eastern Coastal Towns of Ampara District (ECTAD) project scope includes intake structures DAF filtration, transmission mains, booster pumps, nine storage towers and nine distribution networksProject Scope
Working closely with NWS&DB, Outotec's resulting solution was challenging but, with astute design and project management, achievable.
The project structure was turnkey catchment-to-consumer, meaning that all design, construction and commissioning from the raw water reservoir all the way to the distribution networks at town street level, was under the direct responsibility of Outotec. Outotec was the head contractor, working closely with process designers and equipment suppliers, and hand-in-hand with local Sri Lankan partners.
The combined Phase I and II project scope included raw water intake structure, a 15.86 MGD (72 ML/day) dissolved air flotation (DAF) filtration treatment plant including all chemical dosing and residuals handling, clearwater storage, transmission mains, five booster pump stations each with 1600 m³ capacity, nine elevated storage towers of 1,125 m³ or 1,600 m³ capacity, and nine distribution networks, covering a total project area of approximately 500 km².
Remote Location, Large Area
The remote location of the Ampara District, in a narrow area of 4,415 km² stretching from the coast of the Indian Ocean far inland, created difficulties. An undeveloped region, poor in infrastructure, with limited available technology and little local skilled/semi-skilled labour, the region's recent history of civil unrest and difficulty in attracting outside contractors had its own unique set of challenges, requiring patience, flexibility and strong management. The outcomes of the ECTAD projects show that Outotec was successful in dealing with these barriers.
A Triumph of Coordination
Project management was an extremely complex task due to the magnitude of the project, interaction between the various cultures on the job, language barriers and geographic distance between involved parties. Mechanical and process design was carried out in Australia, civil and electrical design and detailing in Sri Lanka, with significant participation from NSW&DB. An office of expat and local personnel was established in Sri Lanka to manage the various project phases, providing project management, drafting and engineering personnel. Equipment was sourced from vendors in Asia, Europe, USA and Australia.
At its peak, up to 1,200 workers were involved in the construction process across as many as 20 sites. The project was completed in a timeframe seldom achieved in Sri Lanka.
Some Sri Lankan Firsts
As a result of Outotec undertaking these two project phases, the Ampara District has witnessed the implementation of some technological firsts in Sri Lanka, which include:
1. Water pretreatment through DAF before filtration -- DAF is an internationally favoured process for algae-affected waters, replacing conventional sedimentation
2. PAC (powdered activated carbon) systems to combat taste and odour -- to remove seasonal non-toxic algal taste and odour compounds, as well as adsorption of potential algal toxins
3. Decanter centrifuges for thickener sludge dewatering -- to produce a solid transportable cake for offsite disposal
4. Self-lift slip formwork for tower shaft construction -- to improve quality, safety and reduce construction times, compared to scaffolding and external crane methods
As a result of Outotec's successful implementation of these technological firsts, other installations in Sri Lanka have begun to adopt some of the same solutions.
The New Treatment Process
Raw water fed to the treatment plant is extracted from an irrigation reservoir. The treatment process involves pre-chlorination, followed by coagulant addition, taste and odour control, flash mixing, mechanical flocculation, DAF over monomedia sand filters, post-chlorine disinfection, lime pH correction and clearwater storage. Plant residuals handling comprises of thickening with flocculant dosing, thickener sludge storage, and decanter centrifugation.
Lingering Aftereffects of Tsunami
Maintaining quality in such a remote area was given high priority by the NSW&DB and Outotec due to lingering aftereffects of the 2004 tsunami that struck the region following an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. Design choices, construction methods and material selections were determined with quality, reliability and robust performance in mind.
An unintended quality test occurred as a result of the 2004 tsunami. The main wave struck the under construction Phase II Marathamunai water tower, with the resulting water mark reaching 6 meters up the shaft. The tower was undamaged while the surrounding area was devastated. The tsunami affected the district heavily in terms of loss of life and polluted the previously viable water sources with saline water and septic contaminants. Thus, it became increasingly important to complete the Phase II project as quickly as possible to expand water supply to tsunami-affected towns. Phase I continued to provide safe water to the affected areas and reliable, clean water was one of the key reasons there was no outbreak of disease in the aftermath.
The Future
After more than two years from Phase II commissioning, the treatment plant is still providing good quality water to consumers, within the design targets. The system is comfortably coping with the harsh local conditions, including unreliable power supply, limited maintenance, large seasonal raw water quality variations and fluctuations in demand.
With ECTAD Phase I and II successfully completed by Outotec, a further project expansion is planned by NSW&DB. This expansion will cover up to 350,000 people in the inland unserved areas of the Ampara District, bringing the total coverage of the district to 611,000 people by 2020. Completion of the extension would make the overall ECTAD scheme one of the largest rural water supply schemes in Sri Lanka. WWi
Outotec (, based in Espoo, Finland, is a global technology leader providing innovative, environmentally sound plants, processes, equipment and services for a variety of customers in minerals and metals processing as well as related process industries. In March of this year, Outotec launched two new business units to expand efforts in energy and industrial water treatment. Known as Outokumpu Technology Oyj until April 2007, it was spun off by its previous namesake parent company after a series of related acquisitions. Last year, it acquired Canada-based Auburn Group, a service provider for the mining and metals industries. For more information, contact Outotec (Australia) Pty Ltd at +61 2 9984 2500 or Outotec (Sri Lanka) at +94 11 244 1020.