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Driving sustainability through water recycling

Previous meetings have effectively ignored the important role reuse of wastewater has in reducing climate change through more efficient use of energy and water resources, says Gurvan Dersel, General Manager, Qatra Water solutions

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Qatra, Desalination, Gurvan Dersel

Sustainable Wastewater treatment and usage is one of the major challenges of the accelerating urban societies in today’s age. The UN declared on International Water Day in March 2020 that the next Climate Change meeting will place water and water Reuse at the top of the agenda.

Previous meetings have effectively ignored the important role reuse of wastewater has in reducing climate change through more efficient use of energy and water resources.

The fast growing UAE population and related urbanization means there is increasing demand for water of high quality to meet domestic, commercial and industrial demand.  In Sharjah Industries are an important contributor to the Emirates growth and as industrialization accelerates, alternatives to use of high cost and high carbon generating sea water desalination has to be found to make the growth of these industries competitive and sustainable.   

In the UAE, each of the Emirates have invested heavily in centralized tertiary wastewater treatment over the last 20 years. These facilities capture and treat municipal wastewater to a very high and consistent quality. However nearly 50% of this high-quality water is discharged to the environment leading to eutrophication of coastal waters due to absence of integrated Reuse solutions.   

QATRA is working with the Sharjah public and private sectors to contribute to becoming part of the solution towards greater reuse of this valuable resource in Sharjah.

The Qatra Water Recycling Plant is a new and unique facility in Sharjah where up to 5,000 cubic meter per day of tertiary treated water is enhanced to a very high quality that brings it close to potable water standards.

Using Ultra Filtration, Reverse Osmosis and Ultra-violet technologies, the facility removes impurities and salt to produce a water suitable for the greater majority of non-drinking applications. This water, commonly named RO Water, is a sustainable and cost competitive alternative to desalinated water.

RO water is used for multiple applications that require high-quality water with low salt content. District cooling plants, paper mills, chemical & lubricant industries, ready-mix and concrete block manufacturers are some of the many industries that welcome the availability of this recycled water.

Dersel explains the benefits of producing and using recycled water:

Lower Power Consumption: Desalination, or the process to produce freshwater from seawater, is main source of water in the UAE. While this is a common method, it may not be the most sustainable or energy efficient procedure available.

Desalinated water requires heavy power consumption, which is mainly produced from fossil fuel energy. This process is not only expensive but is also widely criticized for leaving a heavy carbon footprint. At the opposite end of the energy spectrum, water Recycling Plants can produce the same quality of water using only 25% of the energy required to desalinate seawater.

Decentralized Production: Unlike desalination plants that need to be constructed on or near the shoreline requiring large tracts of valuable shoreline land, lengthy pipelines and high energy pumping stations to distribute the water, water recycling plants can be setup & located in areas close to demand, such as industrial areas. This decentralized approach allows for smaller and cheaper infrastructure and significant reduction in Carbon footprint.

Tariff Competitiveness: Lower power consumption and cheaper infrastructure positively impacts the water tariff. An industrial area that would choose to supply Recycled Water to its users would not only provide an excellent water quality but also give them a competitive advantage owing to lower tariffs.

Previously considered a disposal liability, recycling water has now become a valuable resource. Assessing the crucial need to utilize every source of water available, recycled water is used for potable and non-potable purposes across the world.

In the UAE, this source is mainly used for irrigation, landscaping and construction purposes.  QATRA along with other innovative Environmental companies in UAE has set a path to widen the scope of Reuse and contribute to UAE’s aim of sustainable water usage.

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