It’s a Big Job: Keeping the Water Flowing in the Desert

It’s a Big Job: Keeping the Water Flowing in the Desert

March 22, 2016 at 01:03pm

Mention “water” and you might think of drinking, washing, rainfall or the beach. You might recall that humans are mostly comprised of water, or that a large part of the globe is covered in water. You’re less likely to think about how large a role industrial-scale facilities play in providing the water we use every day.

Especially in this region, much, if not most, of the water we use is highly processed– whether in terms of desalination or wastewater treatment and reuse. It’s no wonder, given that nearly 75% of the Arab world lives under the UN-defined “water scarcity” level of 1,000m3 per capita/year and nearly half live under the “extreme water scarcity” level of 500m3 per capita/year.

As the world marks World Water Day, and its focus on water and jobs, here are four examples from across the Arab world where advanced water technology and big plants are providing us the water we consume at home for drinking and washing, or at manufacturing plants, farms, construction sites and landscaping.

By reusing wastewater, potable water is saved for drinking

In Kuwait, officials are looking to boost wastewater treatment so the processed water can be reused in industrial, agricultural and other non-potable-water settings. Key to this is a major expansion of the Sulaibiya Wastewater Treatment and Reclamation Plant, which will use GE technology to become the largest-of-its-kind membrane technology facility in the world. The plant’s processing capacity will grow from 375,000 to 600,000 cubic meters per day. That’s as much as the water in 240 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

GE ZeeWeed 1000 submerged hollow-fiber membranes and AG LF low-fouling reverse osmosis (RO) membranes will not only help the plant process this huge volume of wastewater, but it also will improve efficiency and provide low capital, operating and lifecycle costs. What’s more, because the technology uses fewer chemicals and produces less residual waste than a comparable conventional facility, the plant’s environmental footprint is smaller.

Complex cleaning of industrial-use water

In Bahrain, the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) uses GE’s advanced hollow-fiber technology to process high-temperature (42°C) water that contains a range of dissolved solids, including oil and grease. GE technology drives a Membrane Bioreactor solution that addresses these specific requirements, while processing 24,000m3 of wastewater a day.

New homes, new sewage treatment plant

In Dubai, GE provided the technology at the heart of a new membrane bio reactor partly followed by reverse-osmosis sewage treatment plant at Dubai Sports City that can process 30,000m3 a day of wastewater and generate 10,000m3 a day of treated sewage effluent (TSE) that’s purified, for use in irrigation and landscaping. As a result, the development can consume up to 10,000m3 a day less of potable water, while creating a big benefit for its residents by keeping its landscaping green and lush.

Africa’s largest desalination plant eases water scarcity in Algiers

In Algiers, a big portion of its residents get drinking water from one of the largest reverse-osmosis desalination plant in Africa. Using GE technology and GE capital, the Hamma Seawater Desalination Plant provides 200,000m3 a day of water to serve many of the 4 million people living in the capital.

Of course it takes teams of skilled engineers, technicians, and other staff to run plants of this size and complexity, and that’s part of the thinking behind the UN’s World Water Day focus on “water and jobs” this year.

As the organizers note, 1.5 billion people, representing nearly half the world’s workforce, are employed in water-related sectors, and nearly all jobs depend on water, one way or another. GE Water and Process Technologies and its employees are marking World Water Day by celebrating their jobs in the water industry. Earlier this month, they uploaded photos of themselves and their work, a collage of which has been created, drawing on imagines coming from across the globe.

GE Water and Process Technologies provides customers across the region, and the globe, with the most comprehensive set of chemical and equipment solutions and services available, helping them manage and optimize water resources and process challenges across industries and municipalities.

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