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Water Project of the Year: Shortlist

For the water project, commissioned during 2018, that shows the greatest innovation in terms of optimising its physical or environmental footprint.

Shortlisted Nominees


Al Wajid Water Project, Saudi Arabia

What is it?

A 68,000m3/d water treatment and supply system taking water from aquifers in the Rub’ al-Khali desert to Abha city and surrounding areas in south-western Saudi Arabia, comprising more than 355km of pipeline, several pumping stations, storage tanks and a new RO brackish desalination plant.

Who is involved?

The project was delivered by a team of Saudi contractors for the country’s National Water Company (NWC). Process equipment came from Veolia Water Technologies; pumps and valves were provided by Torishima, KSB, Clarke and ROSS Valves; most electrics were manufactured by ABB and Schneider Electric.

What makes it special?

This ambitious project addresses major water scarcity challenges in the south-west of Saudi Arabia by tapping into aquifers over two hundred miles away in the world’s largest sand desert, a colossal scale for a water supply project. Over 375,000 people will benefit from this influx of fresh water into their taps.

The project involved the tight management of numerous construction lines to achieve the successful delivery of such a major construction programme, including a brand-new RO plant for the treatment of brackish water from the 28 desert wells to the highest international quality standards. The transmission pipeline laid for the project travels through desert and mountainous areas, lifting the water 450m through two lifting stations along the way. The water will end its long journey in Abha’s newly-built strategic reservoirs, which have a combined capacity of 240,000m3.


In an effort to curb carbon emissions, the SCADA system, control system and valves along the transmission network and pumping stations are entirely powered by the desert’s abundant sunlight, a vital achievement in the Kingdom as national energy plans shift decisively toward renewable energy sources and away from vital fossil fuels.


Green Meadows Water Treatment Plant, USA

What is it?

A new 63,500m3/d water treatment plant in Lee County, Florida. It replaces the ageing lime softening plant which had been serving the area until the new facility was commissioned.

Who is involved?

Jacobs managed the project and provided the overall design, with assistance from RKS Consulting Engineers on the electrical front and Johnson Engineering Inc. for wells and civil engineering. Garney Construction was responsible for works.

What makes it special?

In a notoriously water-stressed region, the new facility provides south-west Florida with an innovative, sustainable water supply system, combining new and existing large-scale treatment technologies.

The plant manages to ably deal with the complexity of being is fed by 34 groundwater wells drilled into three different aquifers, including a brackish one for which a reverse osmosis desalination process is included in the WTP. This technology is combined with an innovative ion exchange system to remove iron, hardness and organics from a shallow freshwater aquifer; and fresh water blending using a third aquifer source, degasification, disinfection and finished water chemical addition.


This groundbreaking melding of different solutions under one roof not only provides the county with high-quality water but also reduces operational costs by 60% compared to the old plant. The facility has been supplying an estimated 30,000 homes and businesses in the south Lee County since operation started in August 2018, including the Southwest Florida International Airport and Florida Gulf Coast University.


Kerry Central Water Supply Scheme, Ireland

What is it?

A new 51,000m3/d water treatment plant by the shore of Lough Guitane in County Kerry, supplying drinking water to the surrounding, predominantly rural area.

Who is involved?

Irish Water, Ireland’s national utility, appointed Glan Agua as the design-build-operate contractor for this project.

What makes it special?

Before this facility started operating, drinking water for tens of thousands of households in Central Kerry fell short of quality criteria, leading to the area being placed on the country’s Environmental Protection Agency remedial action list.


The Central Regional Supply Scheme, with the Lough Guitane plant as its centrepiece, has since succeeded in removing 62,000 customers from the list by offering state-of-the-art treatment and distribution to the area.

The project’s designers did not merely seek to provide adequate water treatment for County Kerry; they sought to build a thoroughly innovative facility. The new plant was thus the first major project in Ireland to be recognised for achieving the level of collaboration in construction and operation to a BIM level 2 standard, which helps designers model entire facilities and networks. This allowed potential problems to be foreseen and prevented at the design stage of the plant.


In a further innovation drive, operation at the plant is almost fully automated. What little human intervention is required can be done remotely from anywhere in the plant, thanks to Glan Agua’s mobile tablet technology. This allows operators to make adjustments and see results in real time from where they are standing.


Yakutsk Water Modernisation, Russia

What is it?

A 110,000m3/d water intake, pumping station and treatment plant on the banks of the Lena river in Yakutsk, the remote capital of the Sakha Republic in the Russian Far East.

Who is involved?

Yakutsk Vodokanal contracted Tahal Group to undertake the project, with supporting funding from the EBRD, the Eurasian Bank and the Sakha Republic.

What makes it special?

Yakutsk is among the world’s most remote cities. Its 300,000 residents have no motorway or rail link to the rest of Russia, and snow slows road traffic for several months each year.


The average temperature in the city goes down to -40°C during the winter. It was no mean feat to complete a water supply project in such extreme conditions. Immense levels of planning were required to ensure the delivery of the required materials and equipment, particularly in the spring when breaking ice often made river crossings impossible.

The extreme cold also posed a great challenge to construction. Local staff and subcontractors with permafrost experience were instrumental to the project’s success, along with innovative methods such as multilayer construction incorporating cooling for soil stabilisation (so permafrost remained solid), concrete casting using heated tents, concrete conveyance via heated pipelines and insulation/heating of outdoor water and effluent pipes.


The river Lena, from which the new intake draws its water, has powerful currents whose force and direction vary widely with the seasons. The engineers came up with a protective design for the water intake lagoon and strengthened the adjoining riverbank. Seismic activity was prevented from damaging the facility by contra-force walls to ensure a long lifespan for Yakutsk’s new high-quality water supply.


The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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