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Water Company of the Year: Shortlist

For the water company that made the most significant contribution to the development of the international water sector in 2017.

Shortlisted Nominees



What is it?

The €1 billion-a-year international water arm of Spanish construction giant FCC, with expertise in constructing, financing and operating water and wastewater infrastructure. The company serves 22.5 million people worldwide.

What has it done?

Aqualia had a stellar year in 2017, notching up contract wins in the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Spain. Its place at the top table of international private water companies is complemented by its digital expertise, and its commitment to the circular economy through the All-gas biofuels programme.

What makes it special?

The devaluation of the Egyptian pound in 2016 hit the profitability of Aqualia’s New Cairo wastewater project hard. Lesser companies would have walked away, but Aqualia redoubled its commitment to the country by winning an even bigger project in 2017 at Abu Rawash. Elsewhere, the company’s international business development machine was firing on all cylinders, negotiating key contract wins in Panama, Mexico, Romania, Oman and the UAE.

Strong earnings have cemented Aqualia’s reputation as the cash cow of the FCC group, ultimately enabling it to raise €1.35 billion via a debut international bond issue in 2017. The buyout of Czech water company SmVaK followed, reinforcing its long-standing presence in Eastern Europe.


Aqualia’s commitment to decarbonisation saw it inaugurate the world’s largest facility for the generation of biofuels from microalgae last year. The “All-gas” programme produces four times more energy per hectare than conventional biofuels, with the algae deriving its nutrients from domestic wastewater. It is part of Aqualia’s cutting-edge innovation agenda, which pushes the envelope on everything from data analytics to anaerobic MBR and low-energy desalination.


Evoqua Water Technologies

What is it?

The NYSE-listed water equipment and service company formed out of the ashes of USFilter.

What has it done?

Under the guidance of CEO Ron Keating, Evoqua has transformed itself from an unwanted thorn in the side of its former owner into an undisputed leader in the field of water treatment. A shrewd roll-up of water technology companies was followed by a highly successful initial public offering in summer 2017.

What makes it special?

When AEA Investors relieved Siemens of the remains of USFilter in 2014, the industry was in accord that it had overpaid – and then some. 2017 was the year that Evoqua proved just how wrong everyone had been, floating on the New York Stock Exchange at a valuation of $3.2 billion, and never looking back.

By simplifying the company’s internal structure and re-energising its workforce to engage more closely than ever with municipal and industrial end customers, Evoqua has built a fearsome reputation in the water industry as the king of systems supply, product sales, and service. It enjoys top-tier market positions in a range of industry segments, from electrochlorination right through to biological nutrient removal.


Evoqua embarked on an ambitious $400 million acquisitions programme which culminated in 2017, improving its earnings profile and strengthening its flowsheet by allowing it to enter new adjacencies. With a revitalised culture and a balance sheet to match, the company is delivering on its promise to deliver worry-free water to its customers globally.


Orascom Construction

What is it?

The water wing of the dual-listed Cairo-headquartered construction company, which builds, owns and operates water and wastewater treatment facilities directly, as well as carrying out work through subsidiaries in the US, Italy and Belgium.

What has it done?

2017 marked the year that Orascom’s global contracting heft paid off in spades in the water sector. As the leading light of the renaissance in water infrastructure in Egypt, the importance of the role the company is playing in one of the world’s most dynamic – and most fragile – water markets cannot be overstated.

What makes it special?

Orascom’s water business enjoyed a record year in 2017, securing contracts for treatment plants with a combined capacity of 1.9 million m3/d, including the massive Abu Rawash wastewater treatment plant, which will serve 6 million people.

The company also provided the heavy lifting behind the desalination revolution that is sweeping Egypt, pushing out massive projects at Galalah and East Port Said that offer brand-new water resourcing options, and helping to build from scratch a desalination industry in a country that had until recently hardly given it a second thought.


Playing a leading role in the revitalisation of Egypt’s water and wastewater infrastructure, Orascom is spearheading the country’s drive for water independence at a time when the cross-border dispute over access to the Nile has put the country’s water infrastructure in the international spotlight as never before.



What is it?

The stock exchange-listed water and sanitation specialist serving 27.8 million people in the Brazilian state of São Paulo.

What has it done?

2017 was the year when Sabesp’s efforts to secure its long-term future – both financially and operationally – proved beyond doubt that the company is in a league of its own among emerging market water utilities.

What makes it special?

As the de facto life support machine for one of the most densely populated areas in Latin America, Sabesp’s response to the recent 1-in-250-year drought was measured, calm, and ruthlessly effective. Rigorously enforced price signals helped cut consumption by 20%, while a transparent outreach programme helped avoid social unrest and minimised the threat to public health.

Under the leadership of CEO Jerson Kelman, Sabesp has transformed itself from a water utility running on empty to a model of long-term resilience. By boosting its water resourcing options through a series of ingenious inter-basin connections, Sabesp has successfully insured itself and millions of paulistanos against the next mega-drought.


With water consumption remaining up to 14% lower than it was before the drought, and the future protection of its watersheds enhanced by the planting of 1 million trees over the next ten years, long-term impacts lie at the heart of everything that Sabesp does. Having already bounced back from a short-term earnings dip as a result of the crisis, skilful tariff negotiations last year look to have resulted in a favourable settlement which will ensure the company is able to deliver a quality service well into the future.


The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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