Veolia at the center of World Water Day

The United Nations “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource” report will be presented on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in Durban (South Africa), during World Water Day. UNESCO considers Veolia is central to this event as it recycles 98% of the wastewater produced by this city on the east coast of South Africa.

Improving the local population’s access to drinking water and reusing the city’s wastewater for local industry is the virtuous solution for adapting to climate change that Veolia has implemented in Durban under a public-private partnership (PPP), the first such contract signed in South Africa.

After treatment, the wastewater is used by local industries in their production processes. This reduces the volume of water extracted from the environment and saves fresh water resources for drinking water production. As a result, an additional 40,000 m3 of drinking water is made available to the city’s residents each day, that is the equivalent of 11 Olympic swimming pools.

Wastewater, the theme for the 2017 World Water Day, is part of Veolia’s day-to-day business, since it serves 63 million people worldwide connected to a wastewater system, operates 3,303 wastewater treatment plants and recycles 371,500,000 m3 of wastewater.

“Do we need to remind people again that insufficient hygiene linked to a lack of sanitation is the leading cause of mortality and disease worldwide,” explains Antoine Frérot, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Veolia. “Around 1.8 billion people drink polluted water, the cause of 842,000 deaths each year. The United Nations’ decision to make wastewater treatment the theme of this year’s World Water Day on March 22 is excellent news. It is recognition by the international community of the public health and environmental protection issues associated with the vital need to collect and treat wastewater.”

However, World Water Day is also an opportunity to show how the second life of wastewater helps develop the circular economy and paves the way for new uses in our day-to-day lives:

- In the city of Abu Dhabi, 300,000 m3 of treated wastewater is recycled each day by Veolia for irrigation and watering

- In Marseille (France), the Cercle des Nageurs swimming pool’s water temperature is maintained at 27 °C year-round by using heat recovered from wastewater with our Energido process

- In Milwaukee (United States), 50,000 metric tons per year of fertilizer with a high organic content is produced from wastewater treatment sludge

- In Tianjin (China), 30% of the Tianjin Soda plant’s wastewater is reused in its cooling circuits

- Near Tarbes (France), treated wastewater will be used to irrigate cereal crops (corn and barley).

Finally, thanks to Veolia, the Namibian capital Windhoek has become the first city in the world to produce drinking water directly from the city’s wastewater. The new plant provides 35% of the greater city’s drinking water, supplying water to almost 300,000 people thanks to its daily
treatment capacity of 21,000 m3 and its highly complex treatment process.
World Water Day this year therefore provides recognition of the role of sanitation not just for everyone’s health, the conservation of natural environments and the resilience of cities, but also for the emergence of new resources that are crucial for development. In Bulgaria Sofiyska Voda, part of Veolia, operates one of the biggest wastewater treatment plants in southeastern Europe – Kubratovo. It is the most energy-efficient WWTP in Veolia’s group. You may learn more about it on the webpage of Sofiyska Voda.