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Water Project of the Year: Shortlist

For the water project, commissioned during 2019, that shows the greatest innovation in terms of optimising its physical or environmental footprint.

Shortlisted Nominees


Choa Chu Kang Waterworks upgrade, Singapore

What is it?

A mass-scale ceramic membrane upgrade to Singapore’s largest water treatment plant. Half of the plant’s 362,000m3/d treatment capacity, where polymeric membranes were originally installed in 2008, was upgraded to ceramic ultrafiltration (UF) technology, followed by an ozone-biological activated carbon filtration (BAC) process.

Who is involved?

Jacobs designed the new facility and supervised construction, testing and commissioning. The design features PWNT’s CeraMac UF solution using ceramic membranes from Metawater. Ozonation components were provided by Mitsubishi and BAC media by Calgon. Evoqua provided electrolysers for the final electro-chlorination treatment step. Construction was led by local contractors including UGL, UGME, and a joint-venture between Chye Joo Construction and Sanli M&E Engineering.

What makes it special?

Choa Chu Kang is now the largest ceramic membrane drinking water facility in the world, marking a new level of success for the technology. The cutting-edge material deployed increases the membranes’ lifespan to an unrivalled 20 years, making it a superlative economical solution based on the kind of life-cycle cost analysis that is increasingly driving utilities’ balance sheets.

The adoption of ceramic membranes allowed designers to implement continuous, in-line pre-ozonation which cleans the membrane surface as it filters the water.


This, in turn, increases the membranes’ recovery rate to over 99% and reduces opex by saving on disinfectant downstream.

The ozone-BAC process following membrane filtration improves the plant’s robustness in the face of changing raw water quality. As climate change increases the frequency of algal blooms in Singapore’s reservoirs, this strengthened treatment process is crucial to the island-nation’s supply resilience at a time when its water resources are coming under increasing strain.


Montevina WTP upgrade, USA

What is it?

A complete modernisation of the treatment train at San Jose’s 113,500m3/d Montevina water treatment plant. The 50-year-old facility has been retrofitted with seven ultrafiltration (UF) trains and two reverse osmosis (RO) trains for backwash water recycling and increased recovery.

Who is involved?

HDR was awarded the Design-Build contract and partnered with H2O Innovation as systems integrator. BASF/Inge provided the UF membranes. The RO membranes came from Hydranautics.

What makes it special?

The UF upgrade now enables the plant to treat raw water with far higher turbidity than before, leading to fewer shutdowns at a crucial piece of infrastructure for the city. Prior to the improvements, Northern California’s winter storms would lead to frequent plant shutdowns as the feedwater exceeded the 15 NTU limit of the previous treatment train. The UF facility can now handle 100 NTU in normal conditions and up to 500 NTU during storms, virtually proofing it from the elements. This has enabled San Jose Water to provide better service and take fuller advantage of abundant winter water.

The plant’s new RO system, installed in addition to the main UF train, allows a greater recovery rate as it processes backwash wastewater to reintroduce it into the supply.


This enables San Jose Water to make more efficient use of their surface water resources in a context where climate change is rewriting standard operating rules and making seasonal droughts more common.

The project’s sustainable approach was not limited to the treatment train: construction was planned so as to repurpose existing concrete structures rather than spend time, money and energy tearing them down and rebuilding from the ground up. The construction team also used screw presses to reduce solid waste volumes, which made disposal more efficient and required less traffic in the nearby residential neighbourhood.


Putatan 2 Drinking Water Plant, Philippines

What is it?

A new 150,000m3/d water treatment plant serving Metro Manila. It was built next to the Putatan 1 plant, commissioned in 2011, to serve an additional million people in concessionaire Maynilad’s service area.

Who is involved?

Contractor Acciona Agua designed the plant and oversaw project implementation in partnership with Filipino engineers JEC and Frey Fil. Arup acted as project manager on the client’s side.

What makes it special?

In a year when the Filipino capital faced major water shortages and consistently low levels in the Angat dam which provides most of the city’s water, the opening of the Putatan 2 plant saved the day by allowing west zone concessionaire Maynilad to improve the resilience of its supply, a crucial move for the concessionaire at a time when private water has come under fire in the country. The plant’s intake draws from a different freshwater source, Laguna Lake, vastly increasing the security of the city’s water resources.

Putatan 2 deploys world-class membrane technology on a simply unprecedented scale in the Philippines.


Following DAF and BAF pre-treatment, the water goes through ultrafiltration followed by reverse osmosis, before a final chlorination step.

Laguna Lake’s waters are considered to be among the world’s most challenging to treat due to a high concentration of algae and suspended solids. Putatan 2’s state of the art technology is helping Manila breaking through to this previously-untappable resource with complete ease.


Tai Po Water Treatment Works expansion, Hong Kong

What is it?

A project to double the capacity of the Tai Po Water Treatment Works to 800,000m3/d, making it the second-largest WTP in Hong Kong. The plant now features on-site chlorine and ozone generation facilities and achieves zero liquid discharge of process wastewater.

Who is involved?

Black & Veatch designed and oversaw the project as client consultant for Hong Kong’s Water Supplies Department (WSD). A joint venture between China State and ATAL oversaw construction as the design-build contractor. Ozonia provided the ozone generation units while the chlorine generation facilities were sourced from Electrolytic Technologies. Xylem and ATAL provided the biological filtration and rapid gravity filtration units, respectively.

What makes it special?

The expansion made Tai Po the world’s largest municipal water treatment plant to generate chlorine on-site. This innovation is a boon for the area’s public safety as it eliminates the risks associated with transporting and storing chlorine at the plant. Chlorine consumption is also reduced by 30% thanks to ozonation.

With the site surrounded by steep hillsides, the project adopted an innovative stacked design to adapt to the space constraints of its immediate environment. This compact solution saved approximately 32% of land area compared to an equivalent “flat” WTP and enabled the WSD to increase capacity even where land is at a premium, a hugely important achievement for a space-restricted location like Hong Kong.


The plant has put in place a zero liquid discharge system for process wastewater which returns backwash water and sludge dewatering filtrate to the plant’s inlet and uses sampling water as well as harvested rainwater for irrigation on the plot. Sludge from the treatment process is also used as soil conditioner for the plant’s green areas and may in future be turned into pavement blocks. The plant is a model for the circular economy.


The Global Water Awards 2020 is proudly sponsored by:

Dupont Water Solutions

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