Interesting article from Engineering News Record:
Opportunities in the wastewater sector continue to grow, particularly in developing countries. Although large wastewater systems are being built around the globe, the market is changing, with new approaches to looking at wastewater and different mechanisms emerging for financing projects.
The global wastewater market should reach $27.5 billion in 2012, with work divided roughly evenly between developed and developing countries, according to Lux Research, a Boston-based research firm.
According to the United Nations, about 1 billion people lack drinking water supple and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation leading to a 2010 UN declaration that sanitation is a basic human right.
One of the most ambitious wastewater construction programs in the world is currently taking shape in Mexico City, where workers are digging a 62-km long tunnel called the Eastern Outfall. Costing $1.45 billion, it will double the drainage capacity of the Mexico City basin. The project will convey rainwater and wastewater to the Atotonilco de Tula plant, which will have a capacity of 525 million gallons per day during dry weather. Upon its completion in 2014, the Atotonilco plant will be the largest in Latin America. Its estimated cost is $750 million.
The completion of the Atotonilco plant will increase Mexico City’s wastewater treatment rate to 60%, a tenfold jump. Five additional treatment plants are planned, which, when completed, will bring the treatment rate to 100%. However, at present only one of those, the El Caracol plant, is currently in the design stage.
The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive is the driving force regarding the wastewater treatment plant construction market in Europe, says James Haddon, business development and strategy director at AECOM. The Directive, adopted by the European Union in 1991, is a set of mandates that set out timelines by which the E.U. member countries have to improve municipal sewer systems. The Directive’s two main articles govern the collection of wastewater and the provision of secondary treatment.
While some nations have met the mandates, others are progressing more slowly. Deadlines for compliance by the original 15 member nations of the E.U. have already expired, and the spectrum of compliance ranges from 100% in certain countries to less than 50% in a few cases. Deadlines for compliance by the 12 nations who joined the E.U. more recently vary, extending out to 2018 in some cases. “The ultimate objective is the same, but the speed at which different countries have to get there is staggered,” says Haddon.
Various sources say that utilities, politicians, and even the public are beginning to look at wastewater differently. Once viewed as something to be disposed of, industry is realizing the potential resources contained in wastewater, such as phosphorus and methane gas.
“The technologies that are emerging are related to resource recovery,” says Ralph Eberts, executive managing director for Overland Park, Kan.-based Black & Veatch’s water business. Some of that paradigm shift is a result of the realities of climate change, he says. “We’ve got to look at ways to supply water, and the most obvious one is to reuse what we have.”
Also, he says, projects that capture biogas to partially power operations at wastewater facilities is becoming increasingly common. For example, the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant in Washington, D.C., which is No. 10 on ENR’s list of the top largest wastewater treatment plants around the world, is currently undergoing a $4-billion upgrade to comply with more stringent nutrient requirements and to produce enough energy from biosolids to supply some of the facility’s power needs.
I’m not sure of the significance, but five out of the ten largest wastewater treatment plants are in the United States.
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