Feasibility study underway for Karachi desalination plant

The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will provide a grant of US$ 287,480 to partially fund the feasibility study for the proposed 25-mgd desalination plant in Karachi to overcome the present deficit of more than 150 mgd.

The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will provide a grant of US$ 287,480 to partially fund the feasibility study for the proposed 25-mgd desalination plant in Karachi to overcome the present deficit of more than 150 mgd.

The feasibility study is expected to be completed by the end of June. Plant construction is estimated to take 18 to 24 months.

The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) Chair-man Vice Admiral Ahmad Hayat said the proposal by the US company California Environ-Management Inc. (CEM) offered an attractively low price at which they would distribute water to people. With a foreign investment of US$ 60 million, the plant will provide 25 mgd of hygienic water.

Most of Pakistan's urban water supply and sewerage works were installed or last upgraded more than 25 years ago, and they are operating above design capacity or have reached the end of the serviceable system life. This situation had led the country to face a critical shortage of potable water. Karachi, a port city with a population of about 12 million, and growing at the rate of five per cent a year, faced severe water shortages with no confirmed or identified new sources of water. Many water-related riots have occurred in the city.

The Government of Pakistan is promoting private-sector participation in the water sector by inviting proposals on a build-own-operate-transfer basis due to limited domestic financing.

The KPT allocated a 100-acre plot for the construction of a 25-mgd desalination plant. CEM received a letter of intent from the KPT to proceed with the project and has teamed with Burns and McDonnell, a Missouri-based US firm, to provide engineering services and to act as overall project manager.

The USTDA-funded feasibility study will assess technical, economic and financial feasibility of the construction of the desalination plant to supply potable water to the KPT and Water and Sanitation Department of the City District Government of Karachi for industrial and domestic use. If implemented, this public-private partnership would be the first desalination plant on this scale in Pakistan.

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