Global Water Intelligence is proud to announce the winners of the 2016 Global Water Awards. Presented by by Felipe Calderón, President of Mexico (2006 - 2012), Chairman of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, at a special ceremony to be held on the evening of 19 April 2016 at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Water Company of the Year
Desalination Company of the Year
Water Technology Company of the Year
Breakthrough Water Technology Company of the Year
Water Project of the Year
Wastewater Project of the Year
Desalination Plant of the Year
Water Reuse Project of the Year
Industrial Water Project of the Year
Water Deal of the Year
Water Leaders Award
Water Technology Idol
- In 2015, Veolia changed the basis of its engagement with clients by introducing the concept of “co-construction”, inventing new models of collaboration, seeking out areas of complementary expertise, and activating new partnerships with fund providers, civil society, local bodies, and clients. This new approach found success in a variety of creative new alliances with partners including food company Danone, IT specialist IBM, insurer Swiss Re, and social business networks Ashoka and Antropia.
- The restructuring of the group to create One Veolia has created a lower-cost organisation, more tightly co-ordinated to deliver value to its clients. On the water side of the business, this has led to contract successes including the $275 million contract to design, build and operate a flowback and produced water treatment plant for Antero Resources in West Virginia, and a €445 million delegated water services contract in Lille, France.
- Veolia has comprehensively defined what it means to be the world’s leading private water company. It has re-established its credentials as an efficient operator, while repositioning its offering to meet the aspirations of its municipal and industrial clients. Most importantly, it has moved its position at the table from sitting opposite the client in a zero-sum game to sitting next to them, working together to develop brilliant new solutions to some of the world’s toughest environmental challenges.
- Biwater took its ability to put winning propositions in front of credit-challenged governments to a whole new level in 2015, securing a $1.2 billion deal with the Kurdistan government to supply more than 1 million m³/d of urgently needed water and wastewater treatment infrastructure to a population under increasing strain from an influx of refugees.
- In the US, Biwater has built up one of the largest reference bases of installed reverse osmosis capacity in the business. Severe water shortages in California and Texas helped it secure a string of contract wins last year, as it increasingly becomes the supplier of choice.
- Biwater’s export finance connections and in-house negotiating skills have enabled it to carve out a unique role as a deal broker, bringing bespoke financial, engineering, technical, and operational solutions to bear where they are most needed in the world. No other water company active today is as willing to engage where it really matters.
For the desalination company which made the greatest overall contribution to the desalination industry in 2015.
Winner: Acciona Agua
- Acciona Agua’s rise in the Gulf desalination market has been nothing short of meteoric. From a standing start in 2012, it succeeded in bringing the 136,383m³/d Fujairah F1 expansion online last year, and secured two important EPC contracts in Qatar in May. It is now the Spanish company with the single largest presence in the Gulf desalination market.
- The GCC’s historical resistance to membrane desalination means that most EPC contractors would have been happy to be awarded Qatar’s first large-scale reverse osmosis facility (the 164,000m³/d Ras Abu Fontas A3 plant). Acciona made it a double whammy by simultaneously winning the contract to build the 284,000m³/d RO component of the Facility D plant, also in Qatar.
- The success of Acciona Agua’s desalination business doesn’t just come down to skilful negotiation and forward-thinking process engineering. It is backed by a robust R&D team, which is developing the UltraDAF-Evo pre-treatment system to deal with algal blooms, the Hiflus membrane-based pre-treatment application, an energy-efficient backwash treatment system (Vetra), and HydroBionets, a wireless sensor to detect membrane soiling.
Distinction: Black and Veatch
- The company has long been keen to rebalance its water business with a larger emphasis on international contracts. The securing of the contract to advise the Saline Water Conversion Corporation on Jeddah 4 – the first mass-scale membrane plant in Saudi Arabia – plus major consultancy wins with PUB in Singapore and the government of the Hong Kong SAR proves that B&V’s desalination credentials are making their mark on the largest clients in the most significant markets around the world.
- As independent engineer on the Carlsbad desalination project, B&V was faced with a mind-boggling array of technical and permitting issues on one of the most complex and long-running projects in desal history. The successful commissioning of the plant in 2015 marks a staggering achievement for B&V, the Carlsbad team, and the desal industry as a whole.
- The sharing of technological solutions between desalination and wastewater reuse is becoming more and more commonplace, partly thanks to the pioneering work undertaken by Black & Veatch’s pragmatic engineers. The company’s design blueprint for the expansion of the Orange County Groundwater Replenishment System in California – which came online last year – demanded a similar suite of technologies to brackish water desalination to achieve the same end result.
Winner: H2O Innovation
- Larger companies have tried and failed to bring together the roles of systems integrator and chemical supplier. H2O Innovation has used smart technologies to bridge the two disciplines, creating a virtuous circle based on a greater understanding of the customer experience. This has led to better product innovation, increased market share, and greater opportunities to learn from customers.
- The FiberFlex membrane module system changes the economics of membrane systems by freeing the customer from the need to buy replacement membranes from the same supplier. The fact that the system has taken off so rapidly is a sign of how much customers value this freedom.
- H2O Innovation has demonstrated in 2015 that a small company with the right combination of creativity, entrepreneurialism, and dedication can shake up the established ways of the global water industry – and thrive. The rest of the world should take notice.
Distinction: GE Water & Process Technologies
- GE Water’s unique portfolio of technologies and water treatment chemicals gives the company exceptional insight into its customers’ problems, and it has used this insight to drive innovation across the company in a way which threatens to leave its competitors in the dust. No other water company has been as active in launching new products in 2015 than GE.
- GE is the dominant player in the energy sector, serving both upstream and downstream markets in power generation. The desire to drive down energy costs for water users whilst minimising water costs for energy producers has become a key theme for innovation, ensuring that its propositions are equally compelling at $30/bbl oil as they were at $130/bbl oil.
- With its “Unimpossible Missions” campaign, GE boasts how every day it pushes the boundaries of what is possible. In 2015, GE Water lived up to the claim, showing that even an industrial giant can be as creative as a Silicon Valley start-up. Such is the strength of the culture of innovation at GE.
- Desalitech is cutting a swathe through the market for commercial RO systems, notching up sales to Coca-Cola, Southern California Edison, and Novelis, among other Fortune 500 companies. With water efficiency a key priority for many industrial water users, Desalitech’s high-recovery, low-energy system has become the decisive solution.
- Speaking at last year’s International Desalination Association World Congress, experts including Tony Fane, Menachem Elimelech, and Gary Amy are increasingly convinced that Desalitech’s closed-circuit desalination system offers a key pathway to drive the energy consumed in salt separation towards its thermodynamic minimum.
- The slow build-up of salinity in aquifers and waterways is one of the great environmental challenges of our age. Desalitech’s breakthrough technology represents a remarkable step towards a practical, affordable solution.
- Besides reducing sludge volumes by up to 60%, the SLG system produces much higher dewatering and thickening capture rates resulting in a much cleaner filtrate return to the headworks. – and reduces odours. After Roquebrune on the Côte d’Azur fitted an SLG system, complaints about smells from the local wastewater treatment plant almost vanished in 2015.
- Orège entered the US market at the beginning of last year, and by the end of 2015 had three pilot plants up and running, one of which – in Allentown (Pennsylvania) – led to an immediate commercial sale.
- As wastewater treatment standards rise across the world, sludge volumes are becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Orège’s technology delivers impressive and immediate savings to every wastewater utility where sludge volumes have become a problem.
Winner: Mujib Dam Water Supply Project, Jordan
- The groundwater supplies that had traditionally provided drinking water in Karak Province have become critically overstretched due to skyrocketing demand and increasingly arid conditions. By taking advantage of previously untapped resources, the MWI is adeptly facing up to the ongoing water issues in Jordan.
- The surface water at the Mujib Dam suffers from high organic loads, microbiological pollution, and significant turbidity. By taking a tailored approach to water handling through the deployment of UF and UV treatment technologies, the water supply project reclaims a source of water that was previously disposed of into the Dead Sea, turning it into another weapon in the country’s water supply arsenal.
- Despite its location in extremely challenging rocky terrain, the project achieved completion at an astonishing rate. The project went from planning to commissioning in just five months – a crucial achievement for such a critical piece of infrastructure.
Distinction: Croton Water Filtration Plant, USA
- The Croton water system is New York City’s oldest, providing water to the city through the New Croton Aqueduct since 1842. In 1989, the US EPA enforced the Surface Water Treatment Rule, mandating all drinking water from surface sources to be filtered. Following several protracted system shutdowns in the 1990s and 2000s due to contamination, the upgraded plant will ensure a more reliable source of drinking water in future.
- To build the largest underground filtration plant in the US, an 880-foot tunnel was drilled to divert water from the local aqueduct, with two more tunnels being bored to channel the water back. The drilling, blasting and excavation removed more than 765,000m³ of rock and soil – enough to cover the whole of Central Park to a depth of 20 centimetres.
- Topped off with the perfectly manicured Mosholu golf course, the plant hosts the largest “living roof” in North America. Visually integrated with its surroundings, the surface architecture allows all surface water to flow naturally to designated collection ponds without the aid of pumps. Despite being fantastically over budget and years overdue, the plant is a big coup for the Big Apple.
Winner: Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Programme, Abu Dhabi
A tunnelling and sewerage project to connect Abu Dhabi city with the new wastewater treatment facilities at Wathba. The project involves the construction of a 41km deep sewer tunnel and 45km of link sewers, in addition to a major terminal pumping station. It is designed to transport average flows of 22m3/s (1.9 million m3/d) and peak flows of 39m3/s (3.4 million m3/d) to accommodate population growth up to 2030.
The Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company hired CH2M as programme manager to execute the AED6 billion (US$1.6 billion) project, with the deep tunnel works contracts delivered on time and on budget by Impregilo and Samsung C&T Corporation. The pumping station was designed by Mott MacDonald and built by Odebrecht.
- The massive tunnel project makes up part of Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, an urban development project. It is a deep gravity system which channels sewage from Abu Dhabi island through massive tunnels, helping to reduce odour and the chances of overflow during times of flash flooding. The ability to handle such immense volumes of wastewater is crucial to Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving 100% wastewater reuse by 2018.
- The programme sets a new benchmark for the region, and minimised environmental impact and disruptions to the community through the use of trenchless technology and mechanised deep tunnelling techniques. The terminal pumping station is the largest of its kind in the world, and will allow 35 existing pumping stations to be decommissioned, freeing up valuable land for development.
- Designed for a maintenance-free 100-year lifecycle, the new system will improve reliability, reduce operating costs, and mitigate CO2 emissions. Delivering the major portions of such a monumental project on time was testament to the team’s dedication, and all that remains now is local link connections before the STEP project can begin to transform Abu Dhabi’s wastewater handling abilities.
Distinction: Hong Kong Integrated Wastewater and Sludge Management
Stage 2A of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) comprises the construction of sewage conveyance systems, the upgrading of the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works (SCISTW), and the upgrading of eight preliminary treatment works on Hong Kong Island, increasing treatment capacity to 2.4 million m³/d. This coincides with the commissioning of the world’s largest sludge treatment facility (2,000 tonnes/day) in Tsang Tsui.
HATS 2A was implemented by the Drainage Services Department (DSD), with Arup acting as consultant. A Biwater-led team completed the upgrade of the SCISTW – which features one of the world’s largest underground sewage pumping stations – while the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) appointed a Veolia/Leighton/John Holland consortium to design and build the STF.
- “Hong Kong” in Chinese literally means “fragrant port”, but the stench from the coastal waters of Victoria Harbour was threatening to deprive the city of its identity. HATS is an initiative to improve the quality of water in the harbour area, and the completion of stage 2A means that all sewage generated by five million residents either side of the Victoria harbour will be sent for treatment, instead of being discharged directly into the sea.
- On its own, HATS would have solved one problem whilst creating another, by putting pressure on limited landfill space with the greater amount of sludge generated. The thermal-based STF plays a key part in the solution by incinerating the sludge to generate heat, which then drives a steam turbine to generate power, with any surplus being directed to the grid.
- The water quality in Victoria Harbour has improved markedly, as has the quality of life for Hong Kong’s residents. Beaches have reopened, and recreational water activities – previously halted due to pollution – have resumed. The neat dovetailing of the numerous infrastructure components reflects a uniquely holistic and forward-thinking approach to municipal wastewater and environmental management.
Winner: The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, USA
- The successful completion of the largest desalination plant in North America followed years of seemingly insurmountable technical, financial and legal hurdles. The tenacity shown by the developer team is matched only by the importance of seawater desalination as a key part of the solution to California’s water crisis.
- A canny combination of state-of-the art energy recovery technology with an external energy offsetting programme makes Carlsbad the first major infrastructure project in the state of California to completely neutralise its carbon footprint. The carbon offsetting programme helped fund the regeneration of forest areas decimated by wildfires in 2007.
- The repurposing of an existing seawater intake pipe formed a crucial plank of the developer’s plans to minimise the impact on the surrounding environment. At the same time, Poseidon retained its green credentials by partnering with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to create, restore and enhance 66 acres of vulnerable local wetland.
Distinction: Ghalilah SWRO, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
- The Ghalilah plant rewrites the rules for energy consumption at large-scale desalination installations. Aquatech secured the contract to build the plant with an audacious energy performance bid of 3.14kWh/m³. In reality, the plant now operates at under 3kWh/m³, an unprecedented figure for full-scale membrane desalination. It is FEWA’s largest desal plant to date, and sets a new global benchmark for performance in membrane desalination.
- By coupling a game-changing technical design with a highly competitive construction cost of just over $82 million, Aquatech has proved that innovation in desalination does not need to come with a sky-high price tag.
- The operation of the Ghalilah plant takes full account of one of the most hostile feedwater sources around. The design features advanced pre-treatment and monitoring systems to protect against the risk of seasonal red tides, whilst coping with salinity levels as high as 42,000ppm. A veritable all-rounder.
For the project, delivered during 2015, that represents the most significant advancement in terms of water reuse.
Winner: San Diego Pure Water, USA
- San Diego has historically been dependent on imported water. Despite this, a 1990s plan to reclaim primary effluent for potable reuse purposes met with strong opposition from local citizens, who coined the phrase “toilet-to-tap”. The tenacity of local officials in turning public opinion around is thus all the more remarkable.
- The plant uses a multi-barrier approach to destroy pathogens and bacteria, employing UF/MF membrane filtration systems, reverse osmosis, and advanced oxidation through the application of UV disinfection and hydrogen peroxide. As part of its outreach effort, the city’s Public Utilities Department has opened the pilot facility to the public to demonstrate the safety of the water produced.
- The pilot plant marks a significant step towards San Diego’s dream of achieving water independence, and will also generate valuable data which could help shape the future implementation of direct potable reuse.
Distinction: Orange County GWRS Expansion, USA
- With California in the grip of a catastrophic drought, finding new water sources to reduce the state’s reliance on imported water and the overstretched Colorado River has never been more important. Orange County’s groundwater replenishment scheme does this at an unprecedented scale and at a fraction of the cost of desalination, whilst anticipating future statewide legislation on eliminating ocean discharges of treated wastewater.
- The expansion, which came online in 2015, saw the construction of eight new below-grade treatment basins, a new reverse osmosis building, and five additional ultraviolet light (UV) treatment trains. A new equalisation system allows effluent generated during peak flow periods to be scalped and stored nearby for treatment during periods of low flow, enabling the GWRS to operate more efficiently by running at maximum capacity 24/7.
- Orange County’s unique level of engagement with the public has turned the GWRS into a living endorsement of how California is pro-actively addressing its water resourcing crisis. The plant’s popular monthly tours are a vital tool in the battle to overcome public resistance by championing the benefits of reuse in their own back yards.
For the project, commissioned in 2015, that represents the most impressive technical or environmental achievement in the field of industrial water.
Winner: Northern WTP, Australia
- The Northern WTP is the biggest of a trio of produced water treatment plants commissioned by QGC to treat saline water produced as part of the coal seam gas extraction process. It uses submerged and pressure ultrafiltration, ion exchange (IX), and three-stage reverse osmosis followed by brine concentration, meaning that only 3% of the influent stream ends up being rejected.
- The plant’s remote location meant that it was imperative to utilise the latest offsite construction techniques in order to streamline the construction process and minimise the impact on the local environment. The pipe racks were manufactured so as to allow a ‘plug and play’ approach using a pre-defined installation sequence, and were trucked in according to carefully timed transport envelopes, eliminating the need for police escorts and pilot vehicles. Meanwhile, three 120-tonne brine concentrators were manufactured offsite in New Zealand before being shipped to Brisbane, trucked to the site, and installed using one of the largest mobile cranes in Australia.
- The debate over coal seam gas produced water has been raging for years in Australia. A practical, pragmatic solution such as this cuts through the rhetoric to the heart of the problem, enhancing QGC’s social licence to operate through its emphasis on responsible treatment and reuse.
Distinction: Changxing Power Plant ZLD facility, China
- Stricter emissions and discharge standards in China have forced companies like Huaneng Power to incorporate sophisticated water treatment technologies into their power plant designs. The wastewater treatment plant at the company’s power installation in Changxing uses Oasys’ desalination technology to treat a combined stream of flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) blow-down and cooling tower blow-down wastewater. To meet the discharge limits, all liquid is reused as boiler make-up water. This is the first commercial application of an FO-based ZLD system in China.
- The system was optimised to ensure stability over a wide range of water quality and flow conditions, given the shared draw solution. It can treat flows ranging from 15–26 m³/hour, and water quality of 25,000–40,000 mg/L TDS from the power plant’s wet FGD scrubbers. The high turn-down ratio and wide operating windows were important factors in the selection of Oasys-Woteer’s solution over evaporator-based designs.
- The operation of Changxing’s ZLD system coincides with China’s implementation of a national Water Pollution Action Plan which focuses on industrial wastewater pollution. Changxing’s use of advanced treatment technology meets the new standards, setting a benchmark for future projects aiming for compliance. Oasys and Beijing Woteer have won three subsequent projects based on the successful operation of Changxing.
Winner: Changi NEWater II
- Chosen as preferred bidder in September 2014, the BEWG-UEL consortium worked at phenomenal speed to finalise the contract and pull together a financing package by January 2015 – running to a tight schedule that will see first water produced in December 2016. Opting to raise 90% of the funding through shareholder loans rather than the more expensive commercial debt market enabled the bidders to deliver a first-year tariff of just S$0.28/m³ (US$0.20/m³).
- Having clinched the contract at a low tariff, optimising operational costs was always going to be of paramount concern. Pitting local electricity retailers against each other in a competitive tender resulted in a fixed power tariff for the first five years of the contract, providing a vital buffer against price fluctuations.
- As the first water PPP in Singapore to be led by a foreign company, Changi NEWater II is testament to the rise of China as a global power in the water industry. The enthusiastic reception for BEWG’s $251 million syndicated loan in 2015 means that the project company now has a web of international finance partners at its fingertips. This will prove vital when it comes to refinancing the project’s debt at more attractive margins once the construction risk has been eliminated.
Distinction: Al Hamra SWRO financing, UAE
- As the world’s first ‘private IWP’ – where a private party takes the role of both developer and offtaker – the project marks a major evolution in the way the private water sector interacts with end-users. By allowing the private sector to take a hand in every step of the process – funding, construction, operation, procurement and distribution – Al Hamra has proved that private water can continually lead the way in delivering excellent service.
- The project’s unique structure, free from government dictat, allowed it to incorporate a solar power plant, pushing the envelope in the interconnection of energy and water infrastructure.
- By dealing directly with customers as well as sourcing its own co-developer and contractor, Utico has realised massive synergies in the bureaucracy of water supply, as well as reducing the burden of payments on cash-strapped utilities and water providers in Ras Al Khaimah.
For the most dramatic performance improvement in a water utility in the developing world in 2015.
Winner: Water and Sanitation Corporation, Rwanda
- The fastest ever performance improvement programme in 2ML Consulting’s utility transformation history was completed successfully by WASAC. Originally famous for its 100-day turnaround programme, 2ML worked with WASAC and the Ministry of Infrastructure to reduce the time period to a staggeringly fast 90 days. Although the performance improvement programme was shorter than usual, WASAC’s efforts produced truly dramatic results.
- At the end of the programme in December 2015, revenue had almost doubled, while billing efficiency reached 100%. Also, the non-revenue water (NRW) indicator showed an improvement of 3.4% on the baseline, and the utility’s cash operating margin improved by 174%, from a deficit of RWF136 million ($180,000) to a surplus of 374 million Rwandan Francs.
- WASAC has shown utilities around the world that the only limits to the speed and success of utility turnarounds are the commitment of the organisation’s leadership and management. The turnaround comes at the same time as a major PPP breakthrough for WASAC, enabling the utility to position itself at the forefront of water development in sub-Saharan Africa.
Distinction: Rand Water, South Africa
- The outstanding performance of Rand Water over the past year has driven forward the social and economic goals of the nation for its customer base of 11 million people. Improvements in water quality support the health and wellbeing of its customers, helping to boost customer satisfaction to 93%.
- The utility has parlayed its organisational strength into becoming a major presence in the community, increasing its spend on the national Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment social programme in 2015, as well as increasing its revenue by 13%. It exceeded its target for job creation, adding more than 200 staff, ably demonstrating the social payoff that strong utilities can bring back to the community.
- Rand Water has also performed strongly on the operational side. It beat its own ambitious non-revenue water target, and maintained 100% performance on the provision of 24/7 water supply, while refusing to compromise on its strict governance standards.
Presented to the early-stage company whose technology could change the future of the water market. Four new desal-related technologies were presented at the Summit. Following each presentation, the presenter was interviewed by four panelists before the audience voted on the technology that it considered to be most likely to live up to the presenter's expectations. The results were: