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Veolia Water Technologies:20 years of empowering Africa

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Veolia Water Technologies South Africa continues to play a major role in enhancing access to water and wastewater treatment services in Africa – in a continent that has a huge water shortage gap to bridge.

With 20 years of experience behind it, Veolia has deployed best-in-breed water technology allowing it to offer customized water and wastewater treatment solutions to municipalities as well as industries.

Originally formed in France in 1953, Veolia in South Africa began in 1999 as Vivendi Water Systems through the acquisition of local water treatment company Chematron with a complement of 80 people.

Since then, the company has grown in leaps and bounds to become one of the most recognizable water solutions experts in sub-Saharan Africa.

“In 2001, we commenced our partnership with two massive municipal water treatment works namely: The Durban Water Recycling and Goreangab Water Reclamation Plant,” explains Chris Braybrooke General Manager for Marketing at Veolia Water Technologies South Africa.

In 2005, Veolia merged with Weir Envig, an industrial effluent treatment specialist with operations in Africa, the Middle East and Australia, to become VWS Envig.

“Weir Envig had local expertise for large design and build projects. This allowed us to reduce our reliance on our head offices in executing these large-scale projects. The merger also expanded Veolia’s footprint to include Botswana, as Weir Envig had a branch there and we did not,” Explains Mr Braybrooke

At about the same time, Veolia started meeting the needs of small water treatment applications, beginning the production of packaged plants offerings. These were initially made-to-order products. Today, these solutions are off-the-shelf, standard products, and are branded Water Techno Packages.

Also in 2005, Veolia acquired Aqua Services & Engineering in Namibia.

Another of the firm’s landmark plants, Sasol Landlord was commissioned in 2005.

In 2010, Veolia commissioned the largest water desalination plant in SA: the Veolia designed & built Mossel Bay Desalination Plant.

In 2013, the firm also commissioned the ZLD crystallization plant at Ambatovy Mine in Madagascar.

Consequently Veolia Water Technologies was recognized as Water Company of the Year in 2016.

In 2018, Veolia commissioned its largest water treatment plant to date: the Lower Thukela Water treatment plant. The same year Veolia was awarded its largest O & M contract to date, at Overstrand Municipality.

Ambitious plan

Two years ago, Veolia hatched a new strategy dubbed Ambitions for Africa meant to further boost water accessibility in Africa.

“The ambitious plan aims to revitalize access to water and wastewater treatment services in Africa by offering innovative water treatment technologies, products and services, “explains Mr Braybrooke.

Some of the central pillars underpinning this strategy include:

Water Techno Packages: There has been a shift away from supplying water and wastewater treatment through large civils-based plants towards smaller-scale, decentralized plants. Veolia is meeting this requirement with our Water Techno Packages. These plug-and-play packaged plants can be rapidly supplied (in as little as 12 weeks), are robust, arrive Factory Acceptance tested and built according to ISO 9001 quality standards.

These include potable water, sewage treatment and a 4×4 truck mounted water treatment plant that can service isolated and remote areas.

Hydrex™ chemicals: in 1999 we produced +/- 80 tpm of chemicals. Today this figure is 350 tpm. In 2018, Veolia’s new state of the art Hydrex™ chemical manufacturing facility came online. Designed to be the central production facility for the entire continent of Africa (and beyond), this facility has a production capacity of 1 500 tpm. Already, the company is getting orders from as far afield as Morocco and Qatar.

This year, Veolia introduced AQUAVISTA™ to the market. This is a software layer that can be installed in new or existing WTPs for greater monitoring, management and optimization.

“Across the course of our history has been our successful ability to define and redefine our technologies and solutions to market in ways that meet the needs of municipal and industrial companies in the most cost-effective, reliable and environmentally sustainable way,” adds Braybrooke.

Veolia’s 350-propritary water treatment technologies continue to leverage technology to treat even the most polluted of waters to a potable standard. “For fresh water treatment we supply all the technologies from our Water Techno Packages to efficiently, reliably and safely treat borehole, river, dam, lakes, and even seawater to potable standards.”

Veolia is also working with companies such as Distell, dairies, etc. to treat and reuse their wastewater for internal use.

If the wastewater is high in Chemical Oxygen Demand(COD), then this opens up the possibility to harvest biogas that can provide boiler fuel, etc.

Act Now

As Mr Braybrooke puts it, such initiatives when used in a massive scale can help tackle water shortage in Africa.

“We need to act now to ensure that we are not reacting to a more serious problem in the future. We see the circular economy, where we can continuously reuse our waste resources – whether this is wastewater or recycling of plastics as a major step forward.”

“Veolia’s water reuse and water recycling services have been proven across industries and at commercial scale. We need to do more of this. We need to overcome the stigma associated to recycled water.”

Water treated by a trickling filter sewage plant, for instance, can be used for irrigation, greening and agriculture. No polluting fresh water sources. Even solid waste such as plastics can be recycled, and that will reduce the amount of land based pollution that enters our oceans.

African governments can help boost water recycling and waste treatment by adopting public-private partnerships that will help it further its water resources. An example is the Durban Water Recycling Plant.

By recycling 47.5 ML/day of municipal and industrial wastewater, which is supplied as a much cheaper process water for industrial users such as Mondi and Sapref, the City of Durban is able to free up this volume of potable water from its water supply, and so expand the penetration and access of its bulk water infrastructure, delivering water services to more people.

Looking forward, Veolia will continue to be guided by its Ambitions for Africa strategy to increase access to water and wastewater services across the continent.

“We will continue to grow partnerships. We will continue to innovate and package our technologies according to the exact requirements of our customers,” shares Mr Braybrooke.

With a full service offering that includes packaged plants, chemicals, tailored operations and maintenance contracts and the supply of spares and services, the company will continue to focus on efficiency, reliability and cost-effectiveness of our solutions to ensure we can meet Africa’s requirements for water and wastewater.

“Veolia is committed to developing our regional anchorage through the implementation of local win-win partnerships. Veolia is thus developing projects with local partners who bring the invaluable knowledge and expertise that enable the company to adapt its offering and properly respond to the challenges of each country in Africa. Attesting to this strategy, South African EC&I company Ceracure is now a stakeholder in Veolia Water Technologies’ South-African subsidiary.”

Also read:

Expert calls for wastewater treatment to tackle water shortage in Africa

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