2015: The year's biggest Water Technology stories

Thames Water starts construction of £4.2bn super sewer project in 2016, FCC Aqualia won €2.4bn contract for wastewater treatment plant while Nasa used satellite data to prevent algal bloom in fresh water. Water-technology.net wraps up the key headlines from 2015.

WWT Thames

Construction on £4.2bn Thames Tideway Tunnel project starts in 2016

Thames tideway tunnel

Thames Water starts construction of the £4.2bn super sewer project, dubbed as Thames Tideway Tunnel, in London in 2016, after independent investors for financing and delivering the scheme have been confirmed.

UK water services regulation authority Ofwat has also awarded a separate licence to a new special-purpose company Bazalgette Tunnel to handle the project, which involves the construction of a 25km-long tunnel.

Once completed, the tunnel is expected to solve the problem of untreated sewage discharges into River Thames.

BHP Billiton committed to river clean-up over looming $5.24bn lawsuit in Brazil

Australian-based mining giant BHP Billiton renewed its commitment for a thorough cleanup of the Rio Doce river in Brazil, after the federal and state governments decided to sue the owners of the Samarco iron ore mine for R$20bn ($5.24bn).

BHP and Vale hold an equal interest in Samarco, the state of Minas Gerais.

Vale sustainability chief Vania Somavilla was cited by Reuters as saying that the dam burst on 5 November and affected the waters of the Rio Doce river, causing its arsenic levels to rise above legally permissible limits.

FCC Aqualia won €2.4bn contract for Egypt's Abu Rawash wastewater treatment plant

Abu Rawash wastewater treatment plant

The Egyptian Ministry of Urban Planning awarded a contract worth €2.4bn to a consortium led by Spanish water management firm FCC Aqualia for design, construction and operation of Abu Rawash wastewater treatment plant located in El Cairo.

Besides FCC Aqualia, other members of the consortium are Orascom Construction Industries, Veolia and local business ICAT.

Under the new contract, the consortium will be responsible for operating the facility for a period of 25 years.

US House of Representatives approved Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015

The US House of Representatives approved a new bill, which would eliminate the production and sale of tiny bits of plastic, known as called microbeads from over-the-counter (OTC) and personal care products.

The plastic microbeads are claimed to harm aquatic life and ecosystems as they are difficult to remove during typical wastewater treatment processes and can therefore pass through treatment plants.

Natural alternatives, however, can replace plastic microbeads in cleansing and exfoliating products, eliminating microbeads pollution.

Satellite-based app supports agricultural water tracking through smartphones


US researchers at the University of Nebraska and the University of Idaho along with partners at Google, developed an application EEFLUX, which is based on METRIC technology and can help in effective water management.

Metric technology utilises satellite images to create digital maps and can help in generation of field-scale maps indicating water consumption.

Water managers in 15 US states used the technology for tracking the use of agricultural water.

Barhale hired Strat Aero drones for Anglian Water projects

Civil engineering service provider Barhale hired Strat Aero subsidiary Geocurve to conduct inspection works with drones for its Anglian Water project.

Geocurve is the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone division of the aerospace company and has landed up with a £1.3m contract to provide engineering, inspection and surveying services for the project over a five year period.

The deal is a part of Barhale's £1.25bn framework contract with the UK-based water utility group.

Qatar commissioned one desalination project and began construction for the next


Qatar Electricity & Water (QEWC) officially broke grounds for the construction of the Ras Abu Fontas (RAF) A3 desalination plant at Ras Abu Fontas, near Al Wakra.

Mitsubishi and Toyo Thai Corporation Public Company (TTCL) were awarded the full engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) contract for the project, which will be based on reverse osmosis technology.

Mitsubishi awarded the design and construction of the desalination units to Spain-based Acciona Agua.

Danaher acquired water solution developer Pall for $13.8bn

US based industrial and healthcare equipment manufacturing firm Danaher agreed to buy water systems manufacturer Pall for $13.8bn.

Following the merger agreement with Pall, Danaher also said that it will split into two separate entities, one science and technology company and one industrial company.

Pall's operations will be a part of its science and technology unit, Danaher said.

Researchers in US developed new desalination method using shockwave


Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US developed a new desalination method that uses an electrically driven shockwave to separate salt from water.

The shockwave within a stream of flowing water pushes ions in the salty water and fresh water apart and does not separate ions or water molecules with filters unlike traditional desalination systems.

The new method, called shock electrodialysis, allows water to flow through a porous material made of tiny glass particles, called a frit. The porous material is squeezed between membranes or electrodes.

Nasa used satellite data to prevent algal bloom in fresh water


Nasa, along with the US Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and US Geological Survey used satellite data designed to study ocean biology to mitigate the harmful effects of algal bloom in freshwater.

Algal blooms pose health risks for humans and animals and can also result in fish kills and a taste and odour in drinking water.

The US planned to spend approximately $3.6m on the project, which includes development of an early warning indicator for the toxic effects of algal blooms in freshwater systems, and an information distribution system to aid expedient public health advisories.

Jordan and Israel signed co-operation agreement to restore water to the Dead Sea

Dead Sea Water

Jordan signed a bilateral water co-operation agreement with Israel, which is aimed at building a pipeline to restore the Dead Sea to address regional water shortages.

The $800m deal follows the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the two countries along with Palestine in 9 December 2013, reports Agence France-Presse.

The project was termed as the 'Red-Dead' and involves the construction of pipelines connecting the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

Mitsubishi Electric developed low cost water treatment technology

Mitsubishi New Water treatment tech

Japanese company Mitsubishi Electric developed new water treatment technology that claims to treat industrial wastewater and sewage at lower cost.

The technology uses hydroxyl (OH) radicals generated through an electric discharge created at a gas / liquid interface to remove persistent organic substances in wastewater.

Mitsubishi Electric's new technology featured a reactor, which uses several inclined plate electrodes in humid oxygen, over which the wastewater flows.