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Global Water Intelligence is proud to announce the winners of the 2017 Global Water Awards. The awards were presented by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Former Trader, Risk Specialist and Author, at a special ceremony held on the evening of 24 April 2017 at the Palacio De Cibeles, Madrid, Spain.

Water Company of the Year
Desalination Company of the Year
Smart Water Company of the Year
Breakthrough Water Technology Company of the Year
Water / Wastewater Project of the Year
Industrial Water Project of the Year
Municipal Desalination Plant of the Year
Industrial Desalination Plant of the Year
Water Deal of the Year
Water Leaders Award
Water Technology Idol 2017


Water Company of the Year

For the water company that made the most significant contribution to the development of the international water sector in 2016.

Winner: ACCIONA Agua

What is it?
The water services arm of Spanish construction giant Acciona, with expertise as an EPC contractor and a long-term operator of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

What has it done?
Acciona Agua was active everywhere in 2016. When it wasn’t ploughing new furrows in South-East Asia, it was commissioning groundbreaking desalination plants in the Middle East, securing finance in the Canadian drinking water sector, beefing up its presence in Latin America, and pushing the technology envelope in North Africa and Europe.

What makes it special?
Acciona’s appetite for the Asia Pacific market seemed to ebb in the wake of two major Australian contracts in 2009–2011. Last year, it stormed back into the region, winning a €112 million contract to deliver a 150,000m³/d potable water plant serving 6 million people in Metro Manila, and bouncing back into Oz with a record-breaking MBBR contract.
Acciona Agua’s reach in the water sector extends far beyond the traditional role of a plant supplier. In 2016, it embraced the smart water revolution with an automation and remote control solution for four water distribution networks in Morocco, placed itself at the heart of the circular economy by building a decentralised reuse pilot as part of the award-winning Watintech project, all while co-ordinating the European Commission-backed INTEGROIL initiative to recover water from waste streams in the oil and gas sector.
Ten years after being formed out of the merger of Infilco, Ondagua and Pridesa, Acciona Agua has built an enviable global presence through strategic expansion and shrewd collaboration. No one did more to promote the case for private water last year.

EDAR La China - ALTA

Distinction: Kurita Water Industries

What is it?
A Japanese water chemicals manufacturer and advanced water systems supplier renowned for its unique ability to cross-sell its facility and chemicals offerings to industrial clients.

What has it done?
2016 was the year in which Kurita finally joined the ranks of the global water giants, with long anticipated breakthroughs on multiple fronts outside Japan. As it emerges onto the international scene, it is polishing its new persona as a leader of the emerging Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) scene.

What makes it special?
Having successfully increased its European revenues more than tenfold in just one year following the acquisition of BK Giulini’s water chemicals business in 2015, Kurita proved last year that this was merely the start of an ambitious internationalisation strategy, announcing the takeover of American chemicals manufacturer Fremont Industries in December.
Not content with expanding its sales network, Kurita also led a $3.5 million Series A funding round in US water data analytics start-up Apana last year. Apana’s LoRa-based analytics offering will allow Kurita to optimise its after-sales service revenues, whilst complementing its own cloud-hosted monitoring platform – launched globally in 2016.
Encouraged by its first successful build-own-operate contract for a foreign client (in South Korea), Kurita announced a bold plan to roll out micro-BOOs through its new Kurita Water Supply Service offering – launched in August 2016 – and to deploy the model outside of its core microelectronics client base. Up to JPY50 billion ($440 million) of annual BOO capex is contemplated going forward.


Desalination Company of the Year

For the desalination company which made the greatest overall contribution to the desalination industry in 2016.

Winner: Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction

What is it?
Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction is a Korean contractor with an established strength in thermal desalination technology, both multi-stage flash and multiple effect distillation. Its US-based division Doosan Hydro Technology specialises in membrane desalination.

What has it done?
Last year saw the culmination of Doosan’s blossoming as a full-service desalination firm, as the company added an enviable array of skills in operations and new technologies to its robust roster of major plant engineering references.

What makes it special?
2016 marked a new peak of success for Doosan’s membrane desalination business. The completion of the 216,000m³/d Escondida SWRO plant in Chile and the securing of the contract for the 227,300m³/d Doha RO plant in Kuwait bear testament to a company with a membrane capability to match its decades of excellence at the forefront of the thermal market.
Doosan’s willingness to think big, push the boundaries of contracting quality, and take on projects of any scale put paid to worries over the demise of thermal desalination. The completion of the massive 550,000m³/d Yanbu 3 plant in Saudi Arabia in 2016 was an impressive achievement of construction excellence, showing that thermal desal can still punch its weight.
The value proposition of Doosan’s core engineering business has been complemented by new capabilities in zero liquid discharge and dissolved air flotation, while the securing of major operating contracts at Doha in Kuwait and Ras Al-Khair in Saudi Arabia completed the company’s successful transition from engineering leader to full-service desalination giant.

Distinction: Utica

What is it?
An Emirates-based power and water systems integrator and investor. It has developed a unique independent water and power project (IWPP) model which involves the concessionaire acting as a private water utility dealing directly with end-users.

What has it done?
In 2016, Utico took its private utility model to the next level, lining up a string of power and water projects around the Gulf, while spreading its wings abroad as it negotiated the acquisition of the Nemmeli desalination plant in Chennai, India. The year was capped by the company securing a $147 million equity and project finance commitment from an Islamic Development Bank-backed infrastructure fund.

What makes it special?
Utico’s unique private IWP model has gone from success to success in a notoriously slow market. Having secured a contract to build a major facility in Ras Al Khaimah in partnership with Spain’s Grupo Cobra, Utico spent 2016 negotiating a string of further privately financed projects around the Gulf. Further afield, the deal to fully integrate the Chennai plant will mark the arrival of Utico as a global force in desalination.
The IDB fund’s investment ranks as an astonishing mark of confidence in Utico’s business model by one of the world’s largest development agencies – and more importantly by the fund’s impressive array of sovereign backers.
Utico’s strategy of integrating privately financed desalination projects with solar energy goes to the heart of the water-energy nexus without the need for state intervention. Commercial renewable desalination has arrived.


Smart Water Company of the Year

For the company which has made the most significant contribution to the field of water technology in 2016.

Winner: SUEZ

What is it?
A global water, waste and energy services provider deploying smart water solutions to its utility customers.

What has it done?
Suez is blazing the trail in bringing the digital water revolution to utilities across the world. Nowhere was this more prevalent in 2016 than in North America, where by the end of the year it had installed over 100,000 smart water meters, leak detectors and turbidity sensors as part of its mission to build the largest smart water network in the United States.

What makes it special?
Suez’s vision of reading every meter, every hour, every day has seen the installation of a wireless network covering more than 150 towns and cities in an area of 1,000 square miles. This ‘Smart Utility’ network in the United States is enabling the company to streamline its billing operations and bring in millions of dollars of extra revenue.
Its proprietary market-leading Aquadvanced platform provides a wide range of real-time options such as smart control panels, trend anticipation tools affecting the control of water and sanitation systems, and cutting-edge data analysis techniques. Recognising the crucial role digital solutions will play in wastewater networks, Suez added the Urban Drainage solution to its Aquadvanced range in 2016.
Suez’s versatility lies in its ability to bring all the elements of the value chain together to deploy a smart solution, sitting above the network to collect data from disparate sources in order to offer utilities insights on operational efficiencies. Its mantra of ‘solutions developed by a water operator for water operators’ has given it a head start in the battle for water’s digital future.

Distinction: Xylem

What is it?
A publicly listed water equipment and analytics company.

What has it done?
Xylem was involved in one of the most exciting deals of 2016 in the water sector, when it acquired smart utility infrastructure specialist Sensus for $1.7 billion. The follow-up purchase of water analytics start-up Visenti helped propel Xylem to the forefront of the smart water space.

What makes it special?
Following two rapid-fire acquisitions, Xylem has put itself in pole position to offer its clients a truly integrated suite of digital solutions. It can combine Sensus’ second-to-none capabilities in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), data analytics and network technologies with its core equipment business of pumps, sensors and treatment systems to create a formidable value proposition.
Access to Sensus’ proprietary FlexNet communications network technology, which allows the secure transfer of data from smart meters and sensors to an analytics platform, means Xylem is perfectly positioned to capitalise on demand for AMI solutions, a segment which is growing much more rapidly than the total metering space.
Xylem has also changed the game in wastewater management, launching its Flygt Concertor pre-engineered pumping system, which detects operating conditions and adapts its performance in real time to significantly reduce clogging and pump downtime. Its pilot system on aircraft wastewater at London’s Heathrow airport resulted in clog-free operations on a high solids feed, as well as more than halving energy consumption.


Breakthrough Water Technology Company of the Year

For the early-stage technology company which made the most impressive commercial breakthrough into the global water technology market in 2016.

Winner: Water Planet

What is it?
The developer of innovative low-pressure and high-pressure membrane solutions for tough-to-treat feedwaters.

What has it done?
2016 saw Water Planet arm itself with a world-class sales team, forge several strategic alliances, and bring two game-changing technologies to the market: an artificial intelligence-based membrane control system (IntelliFlux) and PolyCera, a membrane with ceramic-like performance but at the cost of a polymeric. As part of a three-year, 100-unit deal with an OEM, the company sold its first two units to leverage the virtues of each technology to brilliant effect on off-grid domestic wastewater.

What makes it special?
The PolyCera membrane brings a formidable new player into the low-pressure membrane market: in 2016, Water Planet achieved product sales in the US, Canada, China and India. PolyCera, based on Nobel Prize-winning chemistry, offers high hydrophilicity, permeability, and the robustness of a ceramic membrane, but at the price point of a polymeric. This is a compelling new proposition for clients with tough-to-treat waters who are unwilling to splash out on high-cost ceramics.
In 2016, Water Planet made its first US sale of an IntelliFlux-powered ultrafiltration system as part of a three-year, 24-unit deal with Air Liquide. The IntelliFlux software offers an AI-based adaptive flux optimisation control mechanism for membrane systems, which performs real-time monitoring and data analytics to fully optimise performance, significantly reducing operational costs.
Water Planet’s successes have been nurtured by a laser-sharp focus on innovation, as well as teamwork and a culture where every employee is encouraged to put their ideas forward. Founded only five years ago, the company has made a mockery of the traditional protracted technology commercialisation process in the water sector.

Distinction: Emefcy

What is it?
An Israeli developer of membrane-aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) technology – a low-energy alternative to the traditional activated sludge process for wastewater treatment.

What has it done?
Emefcy was an unstoppable force in 2016, leading the charge in the low-energy wastewater treatment revolution, completing installations in Israel, China and the US Virgin Islands within the first year of introducing its new MABR product. It also successfully closed an equity placement of A$31.6 million as it ramps up its global commercial activity.

What makes it special?
Throughout 2016, Emefcy signed deployment partnerships with no fewer than four large engineering firms across China, giving it unrivalled access to a market where an extensive build-out of rural wastewater treatment plants will play into the hands of Emefcy’s modular, decentralised system.
Emefcy’s MABR addresses two perennial pain points for clients: it offers up to 90% reduction in energy requirements for aeration in wastewater treatment, as well as eliminating the need for an external carbon source in the nitrification-denitrification process.
The commissioning of the facility for a rural community on the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands will showcase the suitability of the technology for resorts and municipalities in a region where the cost of electricity is on average four times higher than in richer nations. It will also serve as a crucial reference site for Emefcy’s expansion into the US market, where it has secured its first pilot facility in California.


Water / Wastewater Project of the Year

For the wastewater treatment plant, commissioned during 2016, that shows the greatest innovation in terms of optimising its physical or environmental footprint.

Winner: Perth Groundwater Replenishment Scheme, Australia

What is it?
An A$125 million (US$95 million) project to build a 38,356m³/d advanced water recycling plant adjacent to the Beenyup wastewater treatment plant in Perth, Western Australia, and inject the potable quality product water into the Leederville and Yarragadee aquifers.

Who is involved?
A joint venture of CH2M and Thiess designed and built the plant for Water Corporation. It is operated by the Aroona Alliance (Water Corporation/Suez/Broadspectrum). The facility uses Dow UF and Hydranautics RO membranes on skids manufactured by Hager + Elsässer, complemented by FEDCO energy recovery devices and a UV system from Calgon Carbon.

What makes it special?
This project celebrates a landmark moment in Western Australia’s ongoing battle to climate-proof its drinking water supplies. Natural flows into Perth’s dams plummeted to record lows in 2015, and while seawater desalination can now produce a third of Perth’s water needs, groundwater recharge provides a less expensive and less energy-intensive alternative.
A three-year groundwater replenishment trial proved crucial to mustering the community and political support the project needed, while allowing time to establish a policy and regulation framework. The regulatory agreement means that for every litre of treated wastewater injected, an additional litre can be abstracted from the same aquifer.
The success of this project convinced the state government to endorse a plan to double the size of the scheme by the end of 2018. The city hopes to roll out the programme at other major wastewater treatment plants, recharging aquifers so as to provide 20% of Perth’s drinking water by 2060.

Distinction: Antarctic Reuse Project

What is it?
A multi-year programme to clean up contamination in the Antarctic. The project included landfill leachate treatment, remediating historical diesel spills, and culminated in 2016 with the installation of an MBR facility and the piloting of an advanced water treatment plant.

Who is involved?
Veolia has been a long-term partner of the Australian Antarctic Division and the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence, working with TasWater and Coliban Water, as well as two universities in Victoria. Xylem supplied the ozone and UV equipment for the advanced water treatment plant, which also employs Metawater’s ceramic MF membranes, a Dow RO system, and instrumentation from Hach and Wallace & Tiernan. Martin Membrane Systems supplied the MBR plant, while AECOM provided technical assistance.

What makes it special?
The Antarctic is one of the world’s harshest yet most precious environments, with unique contaminant dispersal challenges. The sustained 15-year commitment to clean up historic pollution while using cutting-edge technology to provide fresh water to the dedicated research community is a shining example of how science and nature can work together for the greater good.
An MBR plant commissioned in 2016 will be complemented by a seven-barrier advanced water treatment plant at the Davis research station, which brings the capability to produce world-class potable water from secondary effluent within a closed-loop system. The plant was rigorously pilot-tested in Tasmania prior to shipping it to the Antarctic, where it will operate in a temperature-controlled environment.
The environmental benefit of the programme is not its only lasting legacy – the concurrent risk framework developed by Veolia, Coliban Water and the University of Melbourne around chemicals of concern has the potential to revolutionise mainstream water utilities’ sampling protocols, whilst significantly lowering infrastructure operating costs.


Industrial Water Project of the Year

For the project, commissioned in 2016, that represents the most impressive technical or environmental achievement in the field of industrial water.

Winner: Co-op Refinery Complex, Canada

What is it?
A 2MGD (7,570m³/d) wastewater reuse plant at the Co-op refinery complex (CRC) run by Federated Co-operatives Limited in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Who is involved?
The CRC invested approximately Can$200 million in a system that employs both low- and high-pressure membranes from GE to recycle all its wastewater for steam production. GE also supplies the site with specialty chemicals and monitoring solutions.

What makes it special?
Groundwater withdrawals by the CRC reached their regulatory limits when the capacity of the 100,000 barrel-per-day oil refinery was increased to 130,000 bpd in 2013, while the temporary nature of an emergency water supply agreement with the City of Regina meant the CRC was under pressure to find a sustainable long-term solution. Complaints from local residents about odour emissions linked to the discharge of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) added further impetus.
The solution combines live bacteria, a ZeeWeed membrane bioreactor, and a high-efficiency reverse osmosis system – all supplied by GE – allowing the refinery to reuse 100% of its wastewater, which is then used to produce steam for heating, hydrogen production, cooling towers, and to power equipment.
The commissioning of the plant enabled the CRC to reduce its freshwater usage by 28%, and by becoming the first refinery in North America to recycle 100% of its wastewater for steam production, it was also able to reduce VOC emissions in its wastewater ponds, simultaneously solving the attendant odour problem. The outstanding commitment to environmental sustainability is a enduring template for the entire oil refining industry.

Distinction: ETHYDCO ZLD Plant, Egypt

What is it?
An 912 m³/hr zero liquid discharge plant installed at a petroleum derivatives production facility in Alexandria, Egypt.

Who is involved?
Aquatech International provided design services and supplied the key treatment equipment. Enppi was the main construction contractor. The client was Ethydco (Egyptian Ethylene and Derivatives Company).

What makes it special?
One of the biggest challenges was to design a system robust enough to cope with the plant’s high feedwater variability. The result is a facility capable of operating under seven pre-defined scenarios in response to changing site conditions. Central to the treatment plant is Aquatech’s high-efficiency reverse osmosis system, which operates at a 97.5% recovery rate, reducing the size of the energy-consumptive brine concentrator and crystalliser. The plant also incorporates Aquatech’s BioCORE fluidised bed bioreactor technology, and the company’s FEDI (fractional electrodeionisation) process to demineralise the permeate.
With Egypt’s drinking water resources under severe strain, Ethydco’s decision to build a ZLD facility to reuse treated effluent as process water and for cooling tower makeup not only substantially reduces the pollution load on the Nile, but scales down the plant’s dependence on the river for its day-to-day operational needs by 70%.
ZLD plants are a rarity in the MENA region, and this is Egypt’s first. Ethydco has achieved an outstanding double whammy for the environment by slashing both its abstraction requirements and its environmental discharges. It is an important and replicable breakthrough for a region which depends so heavily on the oil economy.


Municipal Desalination Plant of the Year

For the desalination plant, commissioned during 2016, that represents the most impressive technical or ecologically sustainable achievement in the industry.

Winner: Yanbu 3, Saudi Arabia

What is it?
A 550,000m³/d multi-stage flash (MSF) plant serving the Medina region of Saudi Arabia.

Who is involved?
The plant was designed, built and commissioned by Korean contractor Doosan, on behalf of its client, the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC). Following commissioning, the plant will be operated by SWCC.

What makes it special?
Doosan’s mastery of thermal desalination technology resulted in a plant which amply demonstrates that MSF can still compete on a global scale, despite being one of the oldest desalination technologies still in mass operation. By relentlessly pushing up the size of MSF units, the company has gone a long way to keeping the physical footprint of some of the world’s largest desalination plants under control.
Deft work during the delivery process avoided a potential pitfall when problems arose with the completion of a neighbouring power plant that was meant to drive the desalination facility. Doosan ensured timely delivery of the desalination plant by adapting the auxiliary boiler to produce the necessary steam required to run the MSF units.
Tight collaboration on design and commissioning resulted in the flawless delivery of a valuable asset that will ensure the smooth transition of the plant into the portfolio of the world’s largest desalination company. It will go a long way to meeting rapidly rising local water demand from the growing numbers of pilgrims to Mecca.

Distinction: Az-Zour North 1, Kuwait

What is it?
A 486,400m³/d multiple effect distillation plant in Kuwait. The first privately owned desalination plant in the country, it forms the water desalination element of the first stage of the Az-Zour North independent power and water project.

Who is involved?
The desalination plant was delivered by EPC contractor Sidem (Veolia) on behalf of the plant’s owner, a consortium comprising Engie (17.5%), Sumitomo (17.5%), A.H. Al-Sagar & Brothers (5%) and the Kuwaiti government (60%). Water is supplied to Kuwait’s Ministry of Energy and Water.

What makes it special?
By showcasing the very pinnacle of what MED has to offer, the contractor delivered a massive asset that requires a minimum of handling. Combining low O&M costs with a limited requirement for scaling treatment, the plant allows its owners to push the margins of performance and profitability – a key condition for the country’s pathfinder water PPP.
The plant redefines efficiency in thermal desalination. An ultra-low electrical consumption of around 1 kWh/m3 keeps its reliance on external power sources to a minimum. Sidem’s in-house MED expertise allows the plant to use relatively low-pressure steam, freeing up energy and resources at the attached power facility.
The location of the plant meant it had to be configured to handle extreme levels of seawater salinity and a wide range of feedwater temperatures ranging from 13°C to 38°C. The delivery of a truly flexible plant of this size is a stunning paean to engineering excellence.


Industrial Desalination Plant of the Year

For the project, commissioned in 2016, that represents the most impressive technical or environmental achievement in the field of industrial water.

Winner: Escondida SWRO, Chile

What is it?
A 216,000m³/d seawater reverse osmosis plant serving the Escondida copper mine in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The plant is the largest desalination facility in Latin America.

Who is involved?
The plant was built by Bechtel for client Minera Escondida, whose major shareholders are BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. Doosan Heavy supplied nine SWRO units, while the pre-treatment system, consisting of 60 dual media filters, was furnished by Doosan Enpure. Flowserve supplied the pumps as well as 27 DWEER energy recovery devices. BEL supplied the pressure vessels. Black & Veatch acted as the engineer of record.

What makes it special?
The expansion of the world’s largest copper mine, at Escondida in Chile’s parched Atacama Desert, was entirely dependent on securing a reliable water supply. By drought-proofing its operations via a seawater desalination plant, Minera Escondida can now go a long way to meeting the rising global demand for copper, driven by anticipated economic expansion in China and the US.
State-of-the-art slurry tunnelling machines were used at the intake and outfall locations so as to minimise the impact on the coastal zone, which supports abundant marine life. The largest diameter offshore drill in the world was used to bore shafts in the sea floor, eliminating the need for more disruptive offshore construction techniques.
Making the physical connection between the ocean and the mine, some 180km distant and at an altitude of 3,100 metres, was a true engineering feat, carried out in the world’s most seismically active region. The successful commissioning of the Escondida desal plant proves that large-scale desal for mining operations is viable in Chile, and paves the way for a raft of similar facilities to serve other mine sites.

Distinction: Sadara SWRO, Saudi Arabia

What is it?
A 178,000m³/d seawater reverse osmosis plant serving the Sadara Chemical Company’s massive manufacturing facility in the industrial city of Jubail, on the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia. The facility reached full commercial operation in 2016.

Who is involved?
The plant is owned and operated under a 20-year build-own-operate contract by Marafiq, the power and water utility company for the cities of Jubail and Yanbu. The offtaker for the water is Sadara, the Dow/Aramco joint venture based in Jubail. The plant was built by Veolia, which also supplied the DAF pre-treatment system. UF membranes were supplied by Pentair and RO membranes by Dow. ERI supplied energy recovery systems.

What makes it special?
The delivery of the project through a dedicated single-user build-own-operate contract leverages the financial strength of a secure utility to guarantee a supply of high-quality water on a performance-linked basis. The choice of contract structure demonstrates a high degree of confidence in Marafiq as a reliable provider of utility services.
The site deploys an array of high-end pre-treatment technologies – dissolved air flotation followed by self-cleaning microfiltration and ultrafiltration stages – to allow the plant to handle large volumes of water from a feedsource at the extreme reaches of salinity and temperature for a desalination plant.
The installing of a unique dual-train SWRO-then-BWRO process allows for a water recovery level approaching 50%, while a rotary isobaric pressure exchanger gives a specific power consumption of just 5.1kWh/m³, an impressive achievement for a plant of this scale dealing with hostile feedwater conditions.


Water Deal of the Year

For the deal, signed in 2016, which has made the biggest contribution to the advancement of private sector participation in the international water sector.

Winner: Vista Ridge Pipeline Financing, United States

What is it?
A $937 million finance package, including $853 million in non-recourse senior debt, to support the construction of a 142-mile water pipeline. The package is backed by a 30-year take-or-pay contract, and involves sourcing and conveying up to 50,000 acre-feet (61.7 million m³) of water per year from a wellfield to serve the City of San Antonio, Texas.

Who is involved?
The water supply project is being carried out by the Vista Ridge consortium, which is led by Garney Construction. The $853 million in debt funding was provided by a group of nine international banks led by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC). The client is the San Antonio Water System (SAWS).

What makes it special?
As one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, the need for San Antonio to secure long-term drought-proof water supplies has never been more pressing. When the future of the Vista Ridge project was thrown into doubt after the original equity partner encountered financial difficulties, Garney Construction stepped up to assume control, resolving a protracted period of uncertainty and reassuring lenders that the project could move forward on a sound footing.
Faced with a unique risk profile in which transportation permitting requirements, right-of-way easements, and long-term water availability rest firmly on the shoulders of the development consortium, SMBC deftly assembled a five-year debt package at a competitive credit margin of 1.75% over Libor, reducing the long-term bill for SAWS customers by a stunning $529 million.
Vista Ridge was the largest privately financed water project to close in North America last year. By shrewdly securing water leases and right-of-way permissions early in the process, the consortium has provided a replicable blueprint for similar projects elsewhere.

Distinction: Barka 4 IWP Financing, Oman

What is it?
A €276 million financial package to support the construction of the largest SWRO plant in Oman, the 281,000m³/d Barka 4 facility.

Who is involved?
The plant is being developed by the Barka Desalination Company, a consortium comprising Itochu (36%), Suez (27%), Engie (27%) and W.J. Towell (10%). Funding was provided on an 85:15 debt-to-equity basis. The debt is split among BTMU, SMBC, Crédit Agricole and KfW. Water will be supplied to the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company under a 20-year build-own-operate contract.

What makes it special?
The exceptional level of development expertise enshrined within the project team resulted in financial close being reached just two months after the signing of a water purchase agreement. Tying in with a razor-sharp delivery schedule for the plant, the project as a whole is a beacon for successful infrastructure delivery in the Middle East.
The involvement of equity investors from Europe, Asia and the Middle East – alongside debt providers from multiple continents – makes this a truly international deal, and demonstrates the appetite of international investors for well-designed and well-planned greenfield assets.
The low cost of water – just OMR0.290 ($0.75) per cubic metre – sets a new benchmark for desalination in the Sultanate, and offers proof that privately financed infrastructure can push the boundaries of financial sustainability in the water sector.


Water Leaders Award

For the most dramatic performance improvement in a water utility in the developing world in 2016.

Winner: Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, Kenya

What is it?
Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) is the municipal water and wastewater utility for Kenya’s capital city, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nairobi City County.

What has it done?
NCWSC overcame significant barriers to transformation in 2016, and completed a comprehensive performance improvement programme.

What makes it special?
In 2012, NCWSC’s productivity had stagnated and its asset improvement programme was lagging behind growth. Since then, it has emerged as one of the leading utility innovators in sub-Saharan Africa. Maji Voice, an interactive consumer and staff engagement system, has allowed both customers and staff to lodge complaints and have them resolved within 24 hours.
The utility has reduced non-revenue water from above 45% to 38% through improved meter management and an accelerated response time to water leaks. This has had a positive and proportional impact on revenue collection and billing efficiency.
During the transformation process, the utility increased its water production by 130,000m3 per day, boosted its annual bill collections by KES2,813 million ($27 million), and increased the number of paying customers by almost 40,000. This included empowering residents in low-income settlements by connecting them to the mains water network and signing them up to the Jisomee meter platform, a cellphone-enabled metering and billing initiative which dramatically improves revenue collection and can detect fraud.

Distinction: Water Authority of Fiji

What is it?
The body responsible for providing quality drinking water and wastewater services to over 144,000 metered customers in urban areas, and for setting up water supply systems in rural regions, reaching over 700,000 people nationwide.

What has it done?
The Water Authority’s “Water Champion” programme has become a vital platform in the battle to create greater customer awareness of its operations across rural and urban areas.

What makes it special?
Since its inception in 2014, the flexibility of the “Water Champion” programme has provided both a theoretical approach to learning about water and wastewater services, and a practical exercise where students and corporate bodies can witness WAF’s operations first-hand.
The programme has become the voice for water conservation in Fiji, while communicating the value of water and wastewater services to a multitude of stakeholders. Champions who have graduated from the programme include staff from WAF itself, school students, and even members of other utility organisations such as Telecom Fiji.
WAF has executed this programme at the same time as providing clean and consistent drinking water to its customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in support of its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. The achievement is all the more remarkable given that it has had to tackle a depreciated reticulation system with limited resources and technical skills, while facing rising volumetric demand from an increasing population.


Water Technology Idol 2017

Five new early-stage desal-related technologies were presented at the Summit. Following each presentation, participants were interviewed by three panelists before the audience voted on the technology that it considered to be most likely to live up to the presenter’s expectations.

Winner: Mattershift, USA

Founder and CEO Rob McGinnis presented the company’s aligned carbon nanotube flat sheet and hollow fiber membranes. The tubes are aligned within a PES matrix with tube diameters as small as 4 Angstroms (0.4 nm) for use in RO and NF applications. He said that the backflushable membranes can provide salt rejection and permeability up to ten times higher than conventional RO membranes and are chlorine and heat tolerant.

Distinction: Hyrec, Turkey

Basel Abusharkh, the Chief Technology Officer presented the company’s osmotically assisted RO technology. The low-energy hybrid process integrates osmosis and reverse osmosis to concentrate seawater, industrial wastewater and other solutions in ZLD, near ZLD applications and chemical recovery applications.

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