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Water Desalination ReporT

The international weekly for desalination and advanced water treatment since 1965
Volume 47, Number 1 10 January 2011

Sydney Water Corporation: Australia’s largest seawater

2010 Desal Year in Review
desal plant began producing water in January [issue 5]. The
This first, six-page issue of 2011 takes a look back at some A$1.9 billion plant was started on time and under budget,
of the biggest desalination stories covered in WDR during and production of the facility would gradually ramp up to
2010. Subscribers can see the articles – referenced according 250,000 m3/d (66 MGD)…just in time for torrential rains to
to issue number in [brackets] – in their entirety at our begin filling the dams. The plant was officially commissioned
searchable website: in April [issue 16] and Sydney Water received GWI’s award
for Public Water Agency of the Year [issue 17].
Australia: what a difference a Year makes By September, the plant was easily meeting its performance
Gold Coast Desalination Project: When the 2005 decision targets [issue 34], although an error in reading some of the
was made to proceed with the Gold Coast Desalination Plant water quality data created a bit of news in mid-November
at Tugun, the region’s dams were at record low levels; by [issue 44].
August 2007, they had dropped to 17 percent of capacity.
Initial plans called for the 133 ML/d (35 MGD) desal plant United States: Hurry up and wait
to operate at 100 percent of capacity for three years to allow
the dams to ‘catch up’. Carlsbad Desalination Plant: Poseidon Resources’ pro-
posed Carlsbad Desalination Plant had another roller
By December, floods resulting from a strong La Niña and coaster year. Poseidon successfully fought off attempts to
a monsoonal low-pressure zone had filled the dams and a deny or rescind its permits [issues 6, 7] and met with the
decision was made to place the plant on hot standby and to California Debt Limit Allocation Committee (CDLAC) in
shut down one of the recently completed advanced water January, seeking $530 million of tax-exempt, private activity
reuse plants [issue 46]. bonds [issue 4]. Although bond approval was granted [issue
Despite some post-commissioning issues that required the 5], Poseidon had to see an extension because of delays in
desal plant to shut down in July and August [issues 21, 36], selecting an EPC/O&M contractor [issues 12, 20].
the Queensland government said that, “desalination will A dispute between the San Diego County Water Authority
underpin future water security for South East Queensland” and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
[issue 39] in October. It said additional plants could be (MWD) over MWD’s rate structure jeopardized a critical
constructed between 2017 and 2027. $250/AF incentive that was due the desal project [issues
The flooding has since reached biblical proportions and by 22 22, 23], although the matter would go away as the project
December, the Queensland government called for the plant continued to evolve, and Poseidon and the Water Authority
to operate at 100 percent of capacity since the unprecedented decided to join forces to undertake the project [issue 24].
rainfalls had reduced the water quality of the Brisbane The Water Authority’s board soon approved a draft BOOT
River. The increased sediment had limited production of the term sheet to partner with Poseidon [issue 28] and budgeted
conventional water treatment plants, allowing Water Minister $500,000 to prepare and negotiate a final water purchase
Robertson to remind everyone, “The Tugun desalination agreement (WPA) [issue 36]. However, the City of Carlsbad
facility and interconnecting pipelines have again proven that had concerns over the potential loss of tax revenue from the
they underpin water security for South East Queensland, project if the Water Authority would take over, leading to
ensuring that we continued to supply good quality drinking further delays in negotiating an agreement [issue 43].
The cancellation of Poseidon’s existing WPA with the City
Those who would like to take a step-by-step virtual tour of of Carlsbad and release of the Water Authority from any
the Gold Coast Desalination Plant and Bundamba Advanced claims is understood to be the only pre-condition remaining
Water Recycling Plant can visit before new negotiations can begin. The negotiations and
site-tour-and-education/interactive-virtual-tour. accompanying workshops may take three to four months

Tom Pankratz, Editor, P.O. Box 75064, Houston, Texas 77234-5064 USA
Telephone: +1-281-857-6571,, email:
© 2011 Media Analytics. Published in cooperation with Global Water Intelligence.
Page 2 WATER DESALINATION REPORT – 10 January 2011

before the Water Authority’s Board could consider a new consider the issue directly [issue 29]. When the ballots were
WPA, and a bond sale could proceed. counted, the incumbent board members were re-elected and
a ballot initiative that would allow planning and permitting
Poseidon’s Peter MacLaggan told WDR that the company
activities to continue was passed [issue 43].
expects to see a number of important milestones achieved for
the project in 2011, including selection of an EPC contractor Baja California: Plans for yet another Southern California
by February, followed by approval of the WPA and bond seawater desal plant was announced in 2010, when NSC
sale for the Phase II construction financing. Commercial Agua, Consolidated Water’s Mexican joint venture, said it
operations are expected to begin about 30 months after the was developing a large-scale SWRO project to deliver water
close of Phase II construction financing. to customers on both sides of the US/Mexican border. US
Coquina Coast: At the start of 2010, Florida’s Coquina clients are said to include the Otay Water District [issue 33].
Coast Cooperative consisted of nine local governments who Tampa Bay Water: Seven years after it was originally
had banded together to fund a feasibility study to consider commissioned, Tampa Bay Water’s 25 MGD (94,625 m3/d)
a regional seawater desalination that could supply up to 30 desalination plant finally passed its final performance test in
MGD (113,550 m3/d) of desalted water in 2015. The first
February. The test meant the release of a final $31.25 million
phase of the project was completed in January [issue 3] and
payment from its partner, the Southwest Florida Water
a land-based approach was recommended, which could be
Management District (SWFWMD). Since it was first placed
expanded to produce up to 80 MGD (302,800 m3/d) by 2050.
into service, the plant has produced more than 18 billion
A reduction in growth projections and lower revenues forced gallons (68.1 million m3) of potable water [issue 8].
several members to pull out of the Cooperative in May, just
as the next phase of the study was to begin [issue 19]. Four Monterey Regional Desal Project: Broad support among
local governments remained when Phase 2 kicked off in stakeholders and environmental groups helped the Regional
August [issue 30] and the initial capacity was reduced to 10- Desal Project near Monterey make significant progress last
15 MGD (37,850–56,775 m3/d). year [issue 14]. However, it did run into opposition from
By the end of 2010, the Cooperative had held a public the Department of Ratepayer Advocacy over concerns that
workshop to develop siting criteria for the plant. projects did not have effective cost caps [issue 30].
The state Public Utilities Commission thought otherwise and
San Diego County: As the San Diego County Water
recommended the project as the only feasible water supply
Authority’s role in the Carlsbad project increased, it signed
alternative [issue 41] and authorized the project development
an MOU to work with the US Marine Corps base at Camp
to continue [issue 46].
Pendleton to undertake a feasibility project to evaluate a
second, larger SWRO project [issue 17]. The utility said that WDR readers voted the project as the ‘most likely’ large-scale
it anticipates engaging two consultants to continue with a seawater desal project to be the first to operate in California
more detailed evaluation of the project [issue 26]. [issue 43]. Despite that vote of confidence, the project still
must win the approval of the Coastal Commission.
West Basin Municipal Water District: The Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California (MWD) is considering Sand City: California’s first coastal project in Sand City
taking a more active role in the development of seawater began delivering water to the Monterey Peninsula water grid.
desalination plants and discussed their possible participation The 0.3 MGD (1,135 m3/d) design/build SWRO project was
in the West Basin Municipal Water District’s proposed the first full-scale, municipal desalination plant in California
SWRO project with that District’s board [issue 20]. West to receive permitting approval under the new surface water
Basin continued to make progress with its desal plans, treatment regulations [issue 15].
dedicating a demonstration unit at Redondo Beach in
Yuma: Arizona’s long-idled 72 MGD (272,500 m3/d)
November [issue 44].
BWRO plant began an extended test run at 33 percent of
Marin Municipal Utility District: MMWD has been capacity in May to determine the plant effectiveness and
considering seawater desalination since 1990. As the District establish operational cost estimates [issue 17]. By the end of
continued to plan for the possible need to construct a facility the year – seven months into the nine-month test – the plant
[issue 15], the rhetoric of project opponents increased, and was producing more water than expected at operating costs
a measure was added to the ballot that would let voters that were under budget [issue 48].
WATER DESALINATION REPORT – 10 January 2011 Page 3

Hialeah, Florida: The City’s 10 MGD (37,850 m3/d) The Symposium findings will be reviewed over the next two
BWRO plant was the only large desal project in the US to months to develop a Blue Paper that contains recommended
be contracted as a DBO project [issue 13]. After issuing a guidelines and strategies for presentation to the regional
request for best and final offers, the City selected the Inima/ water agencies [issue 47].
AECOM team to undertake the project [issues 21, 22, 29].

Middle East Like most things in Singapore, progress on PUB’s Tuas II
Ras Azzour: After it failed to reach financial close as an SWRO plant moved with remarkable efficiency. In less than
independent power and water contract (IWPP) in early 2009, one month from an April announcement, PUB issued an
Saudi Arabia’s largest single seawater desalination plant RFP, received bids and awarded a consultancy contract for
was reborn as an EPC project in February 2010. Five EPC the 320,000 m3/d (84.5 MGD) facility [issue 16]. PUB then
contractors prequalified with the Saline Water Conversion announced an open tender for the project at the July opening
Corporation (SWCC) to submit proposals for the 1 million of Singapore International Water Week [issue 25].
m3/d (264 MGD) project by 20 March [issue 8]. Of the approximately 26 companies who received tender
When the bids were opened in May, a $1.68 billion hybrid documents, seven bids were received [issue 41]. However,
MED/RO offer by ACWA/Sasakura was the apparent low the range of tariffs – from $0.35 to $1.29/m3 ­– defies industry
bid [issues 18, 19]. However, SWCC’s technical evaluation norms, creating a confused commercial picture, which had
found fault with ACWA/Sasakura’s MED tube thickness not been fully evaluated by year’s end [issue 43].
selection and the tide shifted in MSF’s favor [issue 33].
Only one week later, SWCC announced the selection of the
Doosan/Archirodon MSF/RO hybrid offer [issue 34]. Caribbean & South America

The decision was finalized in November when the $1.76 The Trini Way: Trinidad’s seawater desalination initiative
billion contract was awarded [issue 44]. turned out to be one of 2010’s biggest desal disappointments.
Seventeen companies sought prequalification for four Water
Fujairah 1 & 2: Sempcorp signed an MOU with Abu Dhabi and Sewerage Authority (WASA) projects with a combined
Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) to build an production capacity of 65 MIGD (78 MGD), which were to
additional 136,000 m3/d (36 MGD) of SWRO capacity at have been delivered as BOOT contracts within three years
the existing Fujairah 1 site by 2013 [issue 28], and ILF was [issue 5]. WASA sent bid invitations to the prequalified
selected to provide advisory services [issue 32]. bidders in March [issue 12].
Although Alstom had not completed the power portion of To address the prolonged drought, an expansion of
the Fujairah 2 project, Veolia’s Sidem and OTV groups Desalcott’s existing 30 MIGD (36 MGD) Point Lisas
completed the startup tests on the MED and SWRO systems, SWRO plant seemed to be the path of least resistance [issue
respectively, in August [issue 32]. 6]. Desalcott signed a BOOT contract with WASA to expand
the plant in January, and made some initial changes to
DEWA: Dubai took initial steps towards its first public-private
increase the capacity by several million gallons and said it
partnership by prequalifying advisors for the Hassyan IWPP.
would eventually double the size of the plant [issue 29].
The project will include a 120 MIGD (144 MGD) seawater
desalination plant and 1500 MW power plant [issue 12]. Meanwhile, Trinidad’s Petrotrin Refinery was unable to
come to terms on a BOOT contract with either of the two
Gulf Task Force: An IDA steering committee organized
shortlisted bidders for a 10 MIGD (12 MGD) SWRO plant
an environmental task force consisting of nine scientists to
to support a refinery expansion [issue 6]. The refinery began
review desalination’s possible impact on the Arabian Gulf
looking for mobile units for an interim supply, eventually
[issue 16]. The issues were discussed in a series of conference
locating a firm to provide a 2 MIGD (2.4 MGD) skid-
calls, and the task force chose to host a symposium in
mounted unit on a fast-track basis. Within a few weeks, that
conjunction with Bahrain’s Electricity & Water Authority to
deal had also fallen through [issue 11].
further review the possible impacts and consider potential
solutions [issue 31]. When a new government was elected in June, all of WASA’s
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desal and reuse plans were put on hold [issue 23], and a Oil & Gas Industry
new CEO was named [issue 29]. Then, the new government
announced it was terminating the desal and reuse initiatives Hype over the potential of evaporation and membrane
[issue 40]. technologies in the exploration and production of oil and
gas grew steadily throughout the year. During January’s
One of the few projects that was apparently able to continue Produced Water Conference in Houston, a representative
was WASA’s award of a 4.6 MIGD (5.5 MGD) SWRO BOO of Argonne National Laboratories estimated that the US’
project to Seven Seas [issue 20]. At year’s end, Desalcott produced water production of almost 21 billion bbl/yr (2,415
was also reported to be continuing to negotiate with EPC MGD; 9.14 million m3/d) was only 25 percent of the world’s
contractors to expand its existing facility. total, much of which might be beneficially reused [issue 4].
British Virgin Islands (BVI): Ocean Conversion, One industry application of particular interest is the reuse or
Consolidated Water’s local BVI partner, had owned and desalination of water associated with hydraulic fracturing.
operated the 1.4 MIGD (1.7 MGD) Baughers Bay SWRO The process is most frequently associated with the production
plant on Tortola for 20 years and the smaller Bar Bay SWRO of shale gas and coal bed methane. The US EPA announced
plant for one year. That didn’t stop Biwater from signing a it would fund a study to evaluate the potential impact that
new, 16-year ‘stealth’ deal with the BVI government under fracturing may have on water quality and public health [issue
which it would provide 2.3 MIGD (2.8 MGD) of desalted 12], and WDR summarized state regulations in the Marcellus
seawater on Tortola, making the Baughers Bay plant Shale region [issue 37].
redundant [issue 8]. Meanwhile, the Australia government issued a position
The BVI government signed a new Bar Bay operating statement on the development of its coal seam gas reserves
contract with Ocean Conversion [issue 10], although much [issue 48].
bad blood was played out in the island’s press over the Established desalting companies such as Aquatech [issue
Baughers Bay plant. Baughers’s Bay was eventually handed 47], GE [issue 37], Layne Christensen [issue 30] and Veolia
over to the government, and another local operator was [issues 15, 45] developed new products and strategies for the
called in to operate the facility [issues 13,15]. oil and gas markets. They were joined by companies new to
Aruba: Compared to its Trinidad and BVI neighbors, the the market including Heckmann Corporation [issues 7, 34,
tendering process for Aruba’s second SWRO project went 36] and STW Resources [issues 37, 47].
smoothly. Four design/build bids were opened for a 24,000
m3/d (6.3 MGD) plant in late February and followed a Reuse
relatively typical evaluation process [issue 9]. Veolia was
Water reclamation and reuse activities continued to increase
awarded the design/build contract in August [issue 32].
in 2010, getting off to a good start when the City of San
Chile & Peru: Copper production fueled the thirst for Diego’s City Council voted to fund a reuse project that
desalinated seawater in Chile and Peru. Severn Trent had been a political football since the 1990’s. The action
Services was one of the first to register a SWRO win in the was the result of an unlikely alliance of environmentalists,
South American mining market with a contract to build a engineering professionals, labor leaders and business
SWRO plant in Antofagasta that would pump water 144km officials who came together to support the project [issue 5].
(90 mi) to the Minera Esperanza mine at an elevation of California’s Groundwater Replenishment (GWR) System
2,300m (7,550 ft) [issue 4]. – already the largest MF/RO reuse project in the US –
Southern Copper Corporation issued an EPC tender for a purchased the MF membranes from Siemens’ Memcor group
SWRO plant to serve Tia Maria’s mine in Peru’s Atacama to increase the capacity of the plant to 100 MGD (378,500
Desert [issue 28], and by year’s end, Aqualia had been m3/d) [issue 11].
selected to build a new SWRO project for Minera Candelaria The City of Scottsdale, another long-time proponent of reuse,
near Copiapó, Chile. New SWRO projects were out for also took steps to expand its existing, 13-year old, 12 MGD
tender in El Morro and Minera Escondido, and projects were (45,420 m3/d) MF/RO reuse plant to treat 20 MGD (75,700
under development at Mantoverde and Punta Totoralillo in m3/d) [issue 11]. When the project bid, ten of the eleven
Chile [issue 47]. respondents, including the low-bid contractor, proposed
WATER DESALINATION REPORT – 10 January 2011 Page 5

using large-diameter RO elements [issue 16]. By May, the applied to existing MF/UF membranes to provide increased
contract was awarded and the existing MF units were being biofouling and oil-fouling resistance [issue 18].
replaced with new units [issue 19].
Klaren introduced an updated design of a fluidized bed
The Water Replenishment District of Southern California’s MSF unit originally developed in the 1970s [issue 20]. The
Alamitos Barrier Project was the third project to design an technology was one of five that participated in GWI/WDR’s
expansion of its MF/RO project to treat tertiary effluent Technology Idol event in Paris [issue 17].
[issue 13].
Research into several membrane distillation (MD) processes
Public perception continues to be one of the biggest issues continued throughout the year, and a new multiple effect MD
facing reuse projects. Australia’s new Water Recycling offered by Memsys Clearwater was introduced and began
Centre of Excellence issued a request for EOIs to fund up pilot tests in Singapore [issues 21, 24].
to A$3 million of grants to help overcome known social
As companies offering competing energy recovery devices
barriers to acceptance and adoption of reclaimed water use
continued to duel over energy efficiencies, Desalitech
[issue 36].
introduced a system that used a closed-circuit design relying
on internal concentrate recirculation rather than mechanical
devices to save energy [issue 24].
New Technology
Research into methods of combining desalination and
Five desalination technology companies participated in the microbial fuel cells (MFC) continued last year as researchers
annual GWI/WDR Technology Idol event [issue 13] and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee announced
Voltea’s flow-through capacitive deionization technology the success of an upflow bench-scale unit that operated
was selected as the winning entrant [issues 17, 18]. By July, continuously [issue 26].
the company was exhibiting a commercial unit of the system
A student paper by UNESCO-IHE’s Lorene Villacorte
[issue 25].
on transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) won the best
Teams from the University of Nevada-Reno and Colorado paper award at the AMTA conference [issue 26]. Additional
School of Mines conducted a lab-scale study demonstrating research on TEP’s influence in membrane biofouling was
that it was possible to use renewable heat stored in dense presented in a special session devoted to the subject at the
brine to drive a membrane distillation process, producing EDS EuroMed conference [issue 39].
distillate-quality permeate with no additional energy input,
MIT researchers, in conjunction with Saudi Arabia’s
even from saturated brine feed [issue 3].
KFUPM, developed a membrane of synthetic crystalline
Another new evaporator technology uses a 10m (33 ft) MFI zeolites to desalinate water [issue 37].
standpipe to maintain the process vacuum by sealing it
Energy continues to be a big story in desalination, and
from the atmosphere, eliminating the need for a vacuum
WDR regularly wrote about the use of improvements in
pump. Because the evaporator operates in a deep vacuum,
energy efficiency technology and the use of renewables in
a low-grade solar or waste heat can provide the necessary
desalination. These ranged from a Texas firm’s use of wind
energy. The technology was developed at New Mexico
energy to directly pressurize RO feedwater [issue 42], to
State University and is being commercialized by US-based
FEDCO’s claim of achieving 80 percent efficiency on its
Sterling Water [issue 9].
largest turbo device [issue 37], to the use of concentrated
Researchers from MIT and Korea’s Pohang University solar power in the Middle East [issue 40].
announced a new, membrane-less process in which an
electrical potential is used to create a ‘repulsion zone’ that
acts as a membrane to separate charged ions from seawater Forward Osmosis
flowing through a microchannel [issue 13]. Although it is not a new process, forward osmosis (FO) was
not a common desalting term or mainstream desalination
UCLA’s Samueli School of Engineering developed a topic until recently. Suddenly, it seemed, every conference
polymeric membrane coating that can be grafted on to a had new papers, workshops or seminars devoted to the
conventional TFC membrane using an atmospheric gas subject. It was the topic of at least one webinar, and a
plasma process [issue 14], while IBM announced that it ‘summit’ conducted in conjunction with AMTA’s San Diego
had developed two dense, hydrophilic coatings that can be conference [issue 27] was very successful.
WATER DESALINATION REPORT – 10 January 2011 Page 6

Oasys Water announced plans to commercialize a new FO Hyflux: Singapore’s Hyflux was awarded a BOT contract to
membrane developed at Yale using a patented ammonia construct the Tobruk, Libya SWRO project [issue 45] and,
carbonate draw solution [issue 18]. Then, in November, the in a partnership with Japan’s JGC, it also announced that
company offered FO modules for purchase [issue 45]. it would undertake a 50 percent expansion of the Dagang
Hydration Technology Innovation (HTI), one of the oldest plant in Tianjin, making it China’s largest SWRO facility
names in the FO market, introduced a new product aimed [issue 6].
at the oilfield market. The company dispatched a trailer- For a project that will be one of the largest SWRO plants in
mounted FO system to Louisiana where it is treating and world when completed, there was surprisingly little news
reclaiming drilling fluid wastes [issue 23]. The company also from Hyflux on the construction progress of its 500,000
announced that it would make its FO membrane modules m3/d (132 MGD) Mactaa SWRO project in Algeria.
available commercially [issue 35].
After almost three years of having little to say publicly about Transition
their FO process [issue 13], Modern Water invited WDR to
tour two of its operating installations in Oman, which had Pete Ribbins, former president and chief operating officer
been in successful operation for one year [issue 44]. of Consolidated Water died on 12 December after a long
illness. He led the company from one serving a few
condominium developments
Research to a NASDAQ-traded desal-
ination pure play.  Pete was
Desalination and reuse research and development continued a quiet man who had been
to grow in 2010. Some of the organizations and institutions a successful professional
funding research included the Bureau of Reclamation [issues athlete before moving to
20, 31, 35], MEDRC [issue 31], Texas A&M [issues 6, 20], Grand Cayman where he
Texas Development Board [issue 33], WateReuse Research owned and operated several
Foundation (WRRF) [issues 3, 5, 14, 31, 42, 46] and World businesses. He oversaw
Bank [issue 32]. In addition, several organizations solicited the shift from thermal to
projects for funding, including Australia’s National Centre membrane desalination and
of Excellence in Desalination (NCED) [issues 10, 29]. implementation of BOOT
projects that revolutionized
the company. He was 63 and is survived by his wife Siobhan
Company News and their two children.
IDE Technologies: IDE had a very good 2010. The year
started with the commissioning of the 127,000 million m3/
yr (92 MGD) Hadera SWRO plant [issue 2], and four MED People
units in Tianjin, China [issue 6]. Later in the year, it was Tom Missimer announced his retirement from his position
given a follow-on order for four more MED units in Tianjin at Schlumberger Water Services and told WDR that he
[issue 25], and partnered with VA Tech Wabag to win a has accepted a teaching/research position in KAUST
100,000 m3/d (26 MGD) SWRO in Chennai, India [issue 6]. University’s hydrology department in Saudi Arabia. Until he
takes up residency at the university in the coming months, he
The company was also the first to take the step to commit
may be contacted at
to furnishing 16-inch diameter elements on a large-scale
SWRO facility, announcing that it will employ 16-inch Sean Gilchrist, formerly with CH2M Hill, has joined
elements in the 411,000 m3/d (50 MGD) Soreq plant. BEL AECOM where he has taken up the role of technical director
will supply the pressure vessels, with 50 percent of the for industrial and municipal treatment operating across the
elements to be supplied by Dow Filmtec and the other 50 Australia and New Zealand region. He is based in Sydney
percent by Hydranautics [issue 38]. and may be contacted at

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