Water transmission project to provide reliable water supply for residents of Riyadh

RUM/INNSBRUCK, Austria, July 29, 2009 -- The water transmission system for Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is one of the largest of its kind worldwide...

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Riyadh Water Transmission System. Map: ILF.

RUM/INNSBRUCK, Austria, July 29, 2009 -- The water transmission system for Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is one of the largest of its kind worldwide. Its task: a reliable supply of drinking water in abundant quantity and of excellent quality for the 4.5 million inhabitants (forecast for the year 2020: 8 million) of the desert city, the economic, administrative and cultural center of the kingdom. The new 400 km long major pipeline (Ras Alzaur -- Riyadh) will add to the existing system.

For the water supply of Riyadh, sea water is extracted from the Arabian Gulf, a 1,000 km long and 200 to 300 km large gulf between the Iranian Plateau and the Arabian Peninsula, covering an area of about 235,000 km². The water is then treated in several desalination plants, and transported via several independent pipeline systems over hundreds of kilometers through the desert to Riyadh, where it is stored in reservoirs and fed into the distribution system. The owner and operator of all water transmission systems in Saudi Arabia is the state-owned "Saline Water Conversion Corporation" (SWCC).

At the moment, two separate pipeline systems cover the main water supply for Riyadh:

- Lines A + B, also known as "Riyadh Water Transmission System," transport about 830,000 m³ of water per day from the desalination plant in Al Jubail over a Southern route through the desert to Riyadh, covering a distance of 466 km with the help of six twin pumping stations. The system went into operation back in 1983, and is one of the largest water transmission systems in the world.
- Line C, also known as "Riyadh Water Transmission System, Line C," transports about 380,000 m³ of water per day over a slightly more direct Northern route to Riyadh, also starting at the desalination plant in Al Jubail and covering a distance of 390 km with the help of four pumping stations. The system went into operation in 1995.

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Pipeline construction in the desert. Photo: ILF.
In order to satisfy the constantly increasing need for water in the long term, mainly due to the rapid population growth, a new pipeline needs to be built.

The new transmission system "Ras Alzaur -- Riyadh" consists of one twin-tube pipeline with a length of about 460 km as well as three pumping stations with an installed capacity of 270 MW. The design transport capacity will be 950,000 m³ per day. The water will be treated in a desalination plant to be built in the vicinity of Ras Alzaur and then transported via the new 72" pipeline following the Northern route through a huge sandy desert to Riyadh.

The Austro-German engineering and consulting firm "ILF Consulting Engineers" (ILF) was responsible for the complete design process for the "Ras Alzaur -- Riyadh" system. As early as 2003, ILF started with the first feasibility studies and conceptual designs, followed by the preparation of all tender documents for the construction of the system in 2007. This year, the contracts for construction and delivery services were awarded to different international consortia.

In July of this year, SWCC appointed ILF to be the "Owner's Engineer." In the context of this multi-million Euro contract, ILF will review the whole detail design and supervise the construction works on site. This major contract guarantees a long-term utilization of staff capacities in the Munich and Innsbruck offices. In addition, a team of up to 40 experts will work directly on the building site.

"We have been active in the water transmission field in Saudi Arabia for over 30 years and are proud to make a contribution to the drinking water supply for the population. This new contract highlights the client's satisfaction with our services." (Franz Pölzer, ILF business area manager for water transmission systems)

This contract is the latest in the company's success story in the field of water transmission systems; already from 1977-1985, ILF was responsible for the overall design of Lines A+B and later on for Line C. Furthermore, ILF is responsible for almost all large-scale water transmission systems in the country. In addition, the company is currently designing large-scale water transmission systems in the United Arab Emirates and in Libya.

Entering the desalination market
Some four years ago, ILF started designing desalination plants and is now covering the whole supply chain from water development (in this case by desalination) to transport (via pipelines) and finally to storage and urban distribution.

ILF has been very successful in the desalination business over the past few years. Amongst ILF's references are the world's largest SWRO desalination plant in Mactaa, Algeria (500,000m³/d), and the world's largest MSF desalination plant in Shoaiba, Saudi Arabia (880,000m³/d). The company is also responsible for more than half of all planned desalination plants in Algeria. ILF was thus able to become one of the key players among the best consulting companies in this area at an international level.

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Presentation of the Global Water Award to ILF: Klaus Lässer, CEO ILF; Dr. Corrado Sommariva, ILF Head of the Desalination department; Christopher Gasson, Organiser of the GWA; Thomas Altmann, ILF Business area manager for Desalination; Al Gore, former US Vice-President. Picture: Global Water Intelligence, UK.
In April 2009, ILF received the distinction "Desalination Company of the Year" in the context of the "Global Water Awards," honoring its successes in this field. The "Global Water Award," the Academy award of the water sector, was presented to ILF by former US Vice-President and Nobel laureate Al Gore.

"This award honors the hard work of our employees over the past three years aimed at achieving sustainable successes in the area of desalination. We recognized and employed our strengths and invested in the right talents and innovations, thus fulfilling our vision for this sector. Our goal is to become an internationally successful engineering and consulting firm in the area of water supply and desalination and to always be the first choice for private and public clients." (Thomas Altmann, ILF business area manager for desalination)

ILF Consulting Engineers (ILF) is a group of independent and international engineering and consulting firms.

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