Veolia announces new goals, addresses EPA PFAS regulations

April 22, 2024
Veolia hosted an event in New York City on April 18, 2024, setting its sight on ambitious goals while speaking on the EPA’s regulation of PFAS in drinking water.

Veolia’s goals

Veolia, the largest private water operations company in the United States, announced in a presentation on April 18, 2024, that they have a goal set to double in size by 2030–and increase by 50% by 2027.

“Veolia has a big role to play in this country, an enormous role,” said CEO of Veolia, Estelle Brachlianoff, in the presentation.

Veolia had $5.4 billion in revenue in the U.S. in 2023, and employs 12,000 people across 100 industrial sites and four research and development centers.

“Veolia is already present in the U.S., and it’s a key market for us,” said Brachlianoff. “We are very embedded and anchored in this country, and to serve the community we operate in.”

Veolia has doubled its size in the U.S. in the last five years, generating $2 billion in revenue in 2019 and growing to $5.4 billion in 2023. Veolia was founded in 1853 and entered the U.S. market in 1869.

Veolia has four types of operations in the U.S.: water operations, water technologies, hazardous waste treatment and an emerging operation, local decarbonizing energy.

Brachlianoff said that although these operations are separated, they spend a lot of time working together on solutions for their customers.

The U.S. market represents 25% of Veolia’s global market.

Trends in the U.S. market

“The market is growing very fast, due to three powerful trends,” said Brachlianoff. “The first one is strategic independence, the second one is health and environment, and the third one is water supply and water scarcity.”

Strategic independence

In the presentation Brachlianoff stated that, due to growing geopolitical tension, it’s crucial for the U.S. to be independent for strategic industries. “When you travel in this country, you can see plots of land popping up almost everywhere when you drive, and that’s exactly because of this trend here,” said Brachlianoff.

Some of the strategic industries mentioned in the presentation are things such as the semiconductor, gigafactory and pharmaceutical industries.

“We rediscovered during COVID that we don’t want to be dependent on importing some very important component from across the globe,” said Brachlianoff.

Brachlianoff highlighted the importance of clean water in America, stating that these industries need Veolia to survive. She said it’s important for businesses like chip manufacturers to have clean water, with no microcontaminants, to ensure proper chip production.

Water supply and scarcity

The U.S. has 5.5 billion gallons of water network losses per day, according to the presentation. This adds to the countries water scarcity issues.

There’s a pull for clean water between industry and the population. Both require clean water to survive.

“The good news is we have some solutions to avoid this type of competition,” said Brachlianoff. “I’m thinking here about wastewater reuse and recycling and about leakage reduction in the water network where we still have a great amount of progress that we can make in this country.

Health and environment

“We’re talking here about what we call emerging pollutants. Although they’re not really emerging. Science advances every year and we’re discovering some of those pollutants that have a harmful impact on everybody's health,” said Brachianoff.

Brachianoff stated that one of those emerging pollutants is PFAS. She stated that as there were discussions over the previous decades on treating pollutants like dioxin in drinking water, they were going to do the same for PFAS.

“We’re going to solve the problem,” said Brachianoff.

Veolia and PFAS

Veolia formed a panel to discuss PFAS during the presentation, discussing the unique challenges and requirements for treating drinking water.

“The EPA set regulatory standards for the presence of six types of PFAS in drinking water,” said Veolia North America CEO Karina Rougé during the presentation. “Most of them are around 4ppt. Basically, without getting into details, it’s a drop of water worth of PFAS in an Olympic sized pool, so it’s very low detection level.”

Rougé stated that the extent of PFAS contamination across the country tells us that most drinking water systems will have to install treatment measures.

Rougé said that PFAS treatment is something Veolia has been working on for the past five years.

“We currently have 30 operating systems where we actually treat PFAS. We have 50 more which are in in-between stages like design and construction. They all look very different,” said Rougé.

“There’s a lot of know-how and deep understanding of technologies, like how to know where to build and how to communicate with the population that we serve. That’s something over the past five years that has been front and center to our regulated drinking water operations,” Rougé added.

“What does the solution look like?,” asked Brachianoff. “It looks like a laboratory analysis and then treatment.”

Brachianoff listed treatment techniques for PFAS through filtration technologies like membrane, resins and activated carbon.

“The good news is Veolia has the end to end solution, from every single one of the steps mentioned, combining our different businesses,” said Brachianoff. “The estimation is that it could be a $200 billion market in the U.S. so it gives you an idea of the size.”

ELABE, on behalf of Veolia, conducted a survey on Americans stating that “half of all Americans are convinced that climate change and resulting pollutants can deteriorate their health and living conditions.”

“The American people are ready for change,” said Brachianoff. “The population is asking for the solution that we’re developing and deploying at Veolia.”

“We have a lot of tools in our toolbox, said Tim Huang, chief executive officer and North America regional director at Veolia. “We have proprietary membrane technology. We have our know-how in active carbon and resin exchange. All these technologies can be deployed to remove PFAS.”

Huang said that the strength of Veolia is their diversity in the water market.

“This is a power we have as a group,” Huang said. “We’re able to tackle these challenges from all fronts.”

About the Author

Alex Cossin | Associate Editor

Alex Cossin is the associate editor for Waterworld Magazine, Wastewater Digest and Stormwater Solutions, which compose the Endeavor Business Media Water Group. Cossin graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. Cossin can be reached at [email protected].

Sponsored Recommendations

ArmorBlock 5000: Boost Automation Efficiency

April 25, 2024
Discover the transformative benefits of leveraging a scalable On-Machine I/O to improve flexibility, enhance reliability and streamline operations.

Rising Cyber Threats and the Impact on Risk and Resiliency Operations

April 25, 2024
The world of manufacturing is changing, and Generative AI is one of the many change agents. The 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report takes a deep dive into how Generative ...

State of Smart Manufacturing Report Series

April 25, 2024
The world of manufacturing is changing, and Generative AI is one of the many change agents. The 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report takes a deep dive into how Generative ...

SmartSights WIN-911 Alarm Notification Software Enables Faster Response

March 15, 2024
Alarm notification software enables faster response for customers, keeping production on track