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Wastewater Project of the Year

For the wastewater project, commissioned during 2022, that shows the greatest innovation in terms of optimising its physical or environmental footprint.

Shortlisted Nominees


Abu Rawash, Egypt

What is it?

A $362 million radical overhaul of Egypt’s second-largest wastewater treatment plant, and one of the largest facilities of its type in the world. The project added 400,000m3/d of primary treatment capacity to the existing plant footprint, and upgraded the entire expanded 1.6 million m3/d capacity with biological treatment. The project was fully completed and began operations in July 2022.

Who is involved?

The project was delivered by Orasqualia, the joint venture between Orascom Construction and Aqualia, on behalf of the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, under a three-year design-build-operate contract. Pumps were supplied by Sulzer and Andritz. The project was co-financed by the Egyptian government and the African Development Bank.

What makes it special?

The construction of one of the world’s largest wastewater treatment plants – serving some 9 million people – was a marvel of project delivery, managing a huge team of people through the midst of a global pandemic and still bringing the mega-project in to land within budget and more than two months ahead of schedule.

The project turned an obsolete white elephant into a model for modern secondary treatment: the use of air bubbles instead of mechanical aeration increased chemical reaction times while the covering of sludge tanks reduced odours. Meanwhile, closer communication between vessels and tighter footprint design reduced energy consumption by 30%.


At a time when Egypt is looking to make more efficient use of downstream agricultural land in an environment of increasing water scarcity, the plant beat its benchmarks for chemical and biological loads in effluent by 40% and 68% respectively, vastly improving the quality of treated wastewater released into the downstream network of the country and offering a hugely improved water profile for Egypt’s burgeoning agricultural reuse programme.


Shanghai Shidongkou STP, China

What is it?

An RMB2.5 billion ($360 million) overhaul of a 400,000m3/d wastewater treatment plant north of Shanghai, adding advanced sludge handling capability and odour control alongside new wastewater handling capability to meet stringent new state environmental targets.

Who is involved?

Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (SMEDI) was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract by client Shanghai Urban Drainage. Wastewater components were supplied by an array of expert suppliers including: Binder Engineering (precision aeration), Veolia and Polychem (sedimentation tanks), De Nora (deep-bed denitrification). Sludge technology was supplied by Andritz (fluidised bed drying) and TSK (paddle drying and incinerator).

What makes it special?

In a first for China, the project handles and incinerates semi-dry sludge from external sites, applying membrane impurity separation and a range of incineration processes to generate building materials, making the facility a true regional champion of circularity beyond its own footprint.

As well as upgrading the existing wastewater treatment processes, the new installation incorporates a parallel train to the activated sludge process that helps eliminate the “muddy water” quality of effluent and achieve stringent quality requirements while reducing annual effluent loads by 53,000 tonnes of COD.


In a novel and flexible approach to odour control, the plant is covered by a fully mobile large-space reinforced roof that can be automatically opened and closed at need to respond to changing conditions and effectively handle the complex organic waste gas generated by the sludge drying process.


Taif ISTP, Saudi Arabia

What is it?

A SAR320 million ($85 million) privately owned independent sewage treatment plant (ISTP) serving the city of Taif in Saudi Arabia. The project is the first major wastewater treatment plant in the Kingdom awarded on a PPP basis to reach commercial operation, and treats an initial 100,000m3/d of wastewater. It deploys a continuous flow sequencing batch reactor (SBR) stage followed by tertiary filtration and disinfection, as well as sludge treatment with anaerobic digestion, solar drying and a biogas cogeneration system.

Who is involved?

The project was delivered by a team comprising Spain’s Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios and International Water Distribution Co. (Tawzea) under a 25-year build-own-operate-transfer contract signed with the Saudi Water Partnership Company. SBR technology was provided by Waterleau.

What makes it special?

As the first wastewater treatment plant to be brought online under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030-inspired water privatisation programme, the successful commissioning of the Taif plant was a huge signal of intent for PPP outside more traditional infrastructure areas like power generation and desalination. Treating wastewater at an ultra-competitive price of $0.29/m3, it sets the stage for privatisation in every new corner of the water sector.

With tertiary treatment capabilities and sludge handling expertise, the plant is a first mover in a new generation of sewage treatment in the Kingdom. Treated water irrigates more than 10,000 trees around the plant, while solar-driven sludge handling contributes biogas accounting for more than 30% of the facility’s energy footprint, putting the plant at the centre of the Kingdom’s green goals.


Despite a challenging plant site and interruptions from the pandemic, the plant was delivered on a breakneck 22-month schedule, proving that canny design and delivery expertise can deliver projects of the highest quality in the most challenging conditions.


Victor Valley resource recovery centre, USA

What is it?

A state-of-the-art co-digestion and biogas upgrading facility delivered at the 12MGD (45,420m3/d) Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) facility in Victorville, California. The facility converts 235,000 tons a year of waste and sludge into 320,000Mmbtu of biomethane, and is North America’s largest privately financed co-digestion-to-pipeline project, producing biomethane from wastewater.

Who is involved?

The project was designed, built, operated and financed by Anaergia through its subsidiary SoCal Biomethane, which installed two 800kW dual-fuel combined heat and power modules to complement its Omnivore high-solids anaerobic digestion technology. Its construction partner was W.M. Lyles, and finance was provided by North Sky Capital and Live Oak Bank.

What makes it special?

The project deftly integrates solutions in the water and energy spheres, demonstrating how efficient and technically advanced retrofits of old digesters at wastewater plants can enable more revenue generation and reduce disposal costs, making the utility a net energy exporter at the same time as reducing its carbon footprint.

The plant also helps local municipalities comply with California’s stringent waste disposal regulations, which aims to reduce the landfilling of organic waste by 75%. By co-digesting off-site waste, the plant makes VVWRA a regional champion for waste reduction even beyond its own wastewater responsibilities.


As the largest example of a PPP project in its sector to date, the involvement of corporate lenders North Sky and Live Oak makes the project a shining beacon for the impact of private finance in ensuring California’s environmental ambitions for the water sector.


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