Queensland launches major drought relief initiatives

Dec. 1, 2006
In Australia, the state government of Queensland selected Veolia Water for two major projects to alleviate the severest drought ever recorded in the region, which is one of the fastest growing demographic regions in Australia.

In Australia, the state government of Queensland selected Veolia Water for two major projects to alleviate the severest drought ever recorded in the region, which is one of the fastest growing demographic regions in Australia.

In parallel, the Queensland government and the Gold Coast City municipality awarded Veolia Water, in partnership with John Holland Group, a major desalination plant contract. Both projects form a crucial part of the South East Queensland Regional Water Supply Strategy for effective management of the region’s water resources. The Queensland project is one of the biggest recycled water infrastructure projects in the southern hemisphere.

For the Western Corridor Recycled Water (WCRW) scheme, Veolia Water will initially provide advice to the government for development of all installations and infrastructure, and will then become the operating partner in an agreement where the terms will soon be defined. This program, which is a major drought relief initiative of the state government, will enable water from treatment plants around Brisbane to be recycled and used by industry. The project, scheduled for completion in 2008, represents a total investment of one billion Euros for the state of Queensland. It consists of two stages, the first one involving the recycling of wastewater from the sites of Oxley, Wacol, Goodoa and Bundamba, and the second stage involving the recycling of wastewater from Luggage Point and Gibson Island. The volume of water treated by microfiltration or ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and UV, will be more than 200,000 m3 per day.

The second contract is for the design, construction and operation of a vital desalination plant for the treatment of seawater using reverse osmosis technology to produce an average of 125,000 m3/day of potable water for a population of up to 450,000 residents of the Gold Coast and the South Eastern Region of Queensland.

Veolia Water is responsible for process design and commissioning, in addition to operations and maintenance of the plant for a term of 10 years, with a potential five-year extension period. The plant will be in operation late 2008, and full production capacity is scheduled for early 2009. The contract is expected to bring a turnover of 210 million Euros over 10 years for Veolia Water. The plant will be located at Tugun, adjacent to the Gold Coast Airport, at the southern end of the Gold Coast.

Western Australia to invest Aus $352m in facility upgrades

Three engineering consultancies -- Black & Veatch, Sinclair Knight Merz, and Thiess -- were appointed to form an alliance with Water Corporation to manage the expansive Metro Wastewater Treatment Program in Perth, Western Australia. The US company B&V is a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company.

The Government of Western Australia recently announced that it would provide Aus$ 352 million (US$ 270 million) to upgrade the three largest wastewater treatment plants in metropolitan Perth, one of the most significant projects ever to be undertaken in Western Australia. It is also the first time in the state that a project of this size will have conducted work simultaneously on all three sites. The alliance will provide program management, planning, engineering, procurement and construction services over an initial period of five years.

“There is a tremendous array of talent and experience within the four alliance partners, and we have carefully selected individual team members to form the alliance team,” said Nick Townsend of Black & Veatch, the alliance manager for the Metro Program. “Now as a team we are committed to delivering the program’s objectives, enhancing value to Water Corporation assets and ensuring a positive legacy for generations.” Water Corporation provides water, wastewater, drainage and irrigation services to Perth and hundreds of Western Australia towns and communities spread over 2.5 million square kilometers (www.watercorporation.com.au).

ADB loan targets Sri Lanka water supply access

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is lending an additional US$ 60 million to support the Secondary Towns and Rural Community-Based Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which is helping to increase clean water access to nearly a million people in Sri Lanka. The project will also bring better sanitation to more than 170,000 people.

In 2003, the original ADB loan was $60.3 million. The project is providing water in four urban areas - Batticaloa and Muttur in the North-East province, Polonnaruwa in the North Central province, and Hambantota in the Southern Province. Most of the people in these areas are vulnerable due to years of conflict and effects of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

The project is also carrying out a rural water supply program in the North Central and North-East province, and is helping the National Water Supply and Drainage Board improve its operational and financial efficiency.

Project costs exceeded the original estimate due to rising prices of construction materials after the tsunami and increases in government taxes and duties.

Field Notes

Bangladesh: A US$ 41-million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help provide sustainable access to improved and safe water supply and sanitation services to about 1.6 m people in 16 towns. The country has made progress in increasing access to these services, but about 28 percent of the urban population and 41 percent of the rural population still do not have access to safe water. Sanitation services are provided in 74 percent or urban areas and 57 percent of rural areas.

In one-third of Bangladesh’s small towns, or pourashavas, limited piped water supply is available for two to twelve hours a day; however the water often contains a high iron and mineral content. The rest of the population generally relies on hand tube wells, ponds, and other sources of doubtful quality, according to the ADB. Contamination of water sources is a serious problem in the country with 22 percent of its roughly seven million tube wells contaminated with arsenic beyond the Bangladesh standard of 0.05 milligrams/liter. The project will rehabilitate, develop and expand water sources, treatment facilities, and piped water supply systems in selected pourashavas, ensuring that only arsenic-free groundwater sources will be used.

China: The KSB Group (Germany) will supply 43 pumps for the Huaneng Yingkou Power Station expansion project in the People’s Republic of China. Located at the Gulf of Liaodong in the province of Liaoning, the power plant is part of a special economic development zone. The power plant is the first so-called “supercritical power station” in China providing a generation capacity of 600 MW.

The order includes specially-designed corrosion-resistant pumps for use in the reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant, which is under construction and set to produce the fresh water needed for the power plant’s circuits. The high-pressure pumps generate a pressure in excess of the osmotic pressure and pump seawater along a membrane. Part of the water penetrates the membrane and is removed downstream as desalinated water, while the salt remains in the fluid upstream of the membrane. Pressures ranging from 60 to 90 bar are required to desalinate seawater when applying this method. For more information, visit the website: www.ksb.com.

China: Cascal, a subsidiary of the UK-based Biwater Group, acquired 87 percent of shares in The China Water Company Limited from Thames Water, Sime Darby (Hong Kong) and two minority shareholders on November 15, 2006.

China Water maintains offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai. It owns majority stakes in four water service companies in China, which are based in Xinmin and Qitaihe (North), Yanjiao (near Beijing) and Fuzhou (South East). The water service companies are all joint ventures with local water companies or development zones.

The acquisition is a strategic move for Cascal, which intends to use its water and wastewater management expertise to support and expand the activities of China Water in the fast-growing Chinese water sector.