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French-Run Water Plant Launched in Israel


December 28, 2005


An innovative new water plant in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, operated by
French company Veolia Water, is now fully operational.

The new Ashkelon Sea Water Reverse Osmosis plant will provide drinking
water for 1.4 million people in southern Israel through the desalination
of local sea water.

It produces 320,000 cubic meters of drinking water a day, 108 million
cubic meters a year, which represents about six percent of the country’s
water demands.

The estimated 1.5 billion Euro contract signed by Veolia and its Israeli
partners covers the finance, construction and operation of the plant and
the overall revenue for the first 25 years. After this initial period, the
plant will be transferred to the client, the government of Israel.

Worldwide provider

The Ashkelon unit is the first major step in the Israeli government’s
desalination master plan.

North Africa and the Middle East are facing water shortage problems. They
hold more than six percent of the world’s population but less than two
percent of the planet’s renewable fresh water.

Israel decided to address this problem five years ago by launching a
desalination project which plans the construction of several seawater
treatment sites along its Mediterranean coastline.

The Ashkelon unit is the first of the series. Its production represents 25
percent of Israel’s initial goal of 400 million cubic meters if drinking
water a year. By 2020, the country aims to produce 750 million cubic
meters.

Worldwide, only one percent of drinking water is produced by desalination
and Veolia Water believes this technology should be developed. Seawater
could become one of the main alternative sources in the decades ahead.

Its desalination is a priority area of research and development for
Veolia. The French company won the Ashkelon plant tender launched by the
Israeli Ministry of Infrastructure in 2001 with its Israeli associates IDE
technologies and Dankner Ellern Infrastructure.

Desalination plan

Veolia believes the Ashkelon plant is a decisive step towards the
recognition of its expertise in seawater desalination, using either
membrane technology as in Ashkelon, or the thermal process, which is
widely used in the Middle East.

The plant is comprised of two parallel treatment units that function
separately. It includes membrane desalination units, facilities for
seawater pumping, brine removal and water treatment.

The system utilises three parallel pipes. From the pumping station raw
seawater flows to the pre-treatment facilities through two separate lines.
Filtration is performed in two stages, with gravity and cartridge filters.
The filtered water then passes to the seawater reverse osmosis process via
high-pressure pumps.

Post treatment is used to re-mineralise the water, which then enters the
national water system.

The Ashkelon factory designers planned maximum saving of energy and money.

Osmosis requires a high level of energy, because of the pumps, but the
costs were reduced by the construction of a dedicated power station.

The drinking water that is produced in Ashkelon costs around 52.7 cents
per cubic meter, which has been evaluated as the lowest price in the world
for this kind of operation.

 

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