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Veolia Water starts up operation of the world’s largest reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant

Veolia Water announces the start up of the AshkelonSeawater Desalination Plant, south of Tel Aviv (Israel). With a dailyproduction capacity of 320,000 cubic meters of drinking water (that is 108million cubic meters a year), it is the world’s largest desalination plantusing reverse osmosis technology.
The 25-year contract was signed in September 2001 with Veolia Water and itsIsraeli partners, following an international call for tenders published by theIsraeli government. The contract covers the finance, construction and operationof the desalination plant, and represents for the consortium total cumulativesales for the term of the contract of around 1.5 billion euros.
The plant, designed and built by Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies andits Israeli partners, is comprised of two parallel treatment units each ofwhich has an annual production capacity of 54 million cubic meters (to put thisfigure into perspective, 108 million cubic meters is the annual waterconsumption of a population of 1.4 million). The first stage has been producingdrinking water since the end of September, while the second stage, currently inthe delivery phase, will be operational by the end of December 2005.
For Veolia Water, the Ashkelon Plant is a decisive step towards the recognitionof the company’s expertise in the area of seawater desalination, using eithermembrane technology, of which Ashkelon is the world’s largest reference todate, or the thermal process, another technique in which our Group has been theleader for the past few years, and which is widely used throughout the MiddleEast stated Antoine Frérot, General Manager Veolia Water.
The drinking water produced at the Ashkelon Plant is of extremely high quality.Gradually desalinated as it passes through 32 reverse osmosis modules, the dissolvedsalt concentration at the plant exit is 30 mg/l, compared with 35,000 mg/l inthe raw water pumped from the sea (the maximum concentration for water forhuman consumption is 400 mg/l). The water, produced at a highly competitiveprice (0.50 euros per cubic meter), is entirely purchased by the Israeli State.It is used to supply drinking water to southern Israel.
Worldwide, just 1% of drinking water is produced by desalination, even thoughalmost one quarter of the world’s population lives within less than 25kilometers of the coast. Seawater could become one of the main alternativesources in the decades ahead. Its desalination is a priority area of researchand development for Veolia Environnement.
The main areas of R&D for desalination by reverse osmosis are theseawater’s pretreatment to limit membrane clogging, and the effort to reduceenergy consumption which will further cut the cost of desalination - alreadyreduced by a factor of four in the past decade - to help contribute tosustainable development through improved environmental outcomes


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