2014: The year's biggest Water-Technology stories

California approved a $7.5bn water bond issue plan to be invested in the city's ageing water infrastructure, while an estimate from NASA finds that the US state will require more than 42km³ of water to relieve drought conditions. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) start-up Nano Sun in Singapore developed a multifunction water filtration membrane, which is claimed to be cost-effective while offering superior performance. Water-Technology wraps-up the key headlines from 2014.

California Drought

California will require 42km³ of water to address drought, says Nasa


The US state of California will require more than 42km³ of water to relieve drought conditions and return to normal, NASA estimates.

NASA scientists presented the satellite data findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

The estimations were made on the basis of space and airborne measurements through NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites.

The data can be helpful for taking informed water management decisions, the US space agency stated.

The research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, by a team of scientists led by Jay Famiglietti from NASA.

Thames Water selects partners for £1bn infrastructure projects

Thames Water

Thames Water selected two construction joint-ventures (JV) for its new £1bn infrastructure projects over the next 15 years, including delivery of water networks and developer services.

Agility, comprising J Murphy & Sons and Morrison Utility Services, and KCD, comprising Kier Services and Clancy Docwra, were selected after the procurement process.

The alliance will start in April 2015 after a mobilisation period commencing in January 2015, and will run for 15 years.

Under the contract, the partners will provide a full range of services, including clean water network repair, rehabilitation, maintenance and leak detection. However, building new water mains is not included.

European Commission supports ACCIONA Agua's BRAINYMEM technology

The European Commission (EC) selected the BRAINYMEM (advanced-control MBR for wastewater reclamation) research project to be supported through its LIFE+ programme.

Led by ACCIONA Agua, the project has been selected for its potential to remove chemicals from treated wastewater.

Advanced-control MBR for wastewater reclamation technology from ACCIONA Agua reduces energy consumption of wastewater treatment plants with the application of an advanced control system.

It is claimed to cut down the energy consumption of a plant by 25%.

French companies form partnership for waterborne waste treatment plant

Suez Environnement subsidiary SITA formed a partnership with three French companies to build an innovative pilot waterborne waste treatment plant for the Lyon urban area.

The three companies are power firm Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR), river transport operator Compagnie Fluviale de Transport (CFT) and water navigation authority Voies Navigables de France (VNF).

The companies want to form an innovative waterborne waste treatment plant to serve the French city. Partners will contribute their expertise for designing a mobile waterborne waste treatment plant concept for sustainable development.

Singapore researchers develop multifunction water filtration membrane


Nanyang Technological University (NTU) start-up Nano Sun in Singapore developed a multifunction water filtration membrane, which is claimed to be cost-effective while offering superior performance.

The new membrane is claimed to have anti-bacterial and anti-biofouling properties, and last twice as long as conventional membranes, while being resistant to breakage.

Researchers also claim that the new membrane can have a flow rate ten times faster than conventional membranes.

California voters approve $7.5bn water bond to fund water projects

California Drought

Voters in California, US, approved a $7.5bn water bond, which will clear ways for taxpayers money invested in the city's ageing water infrastructure.

The bond programme will help in funding multiple water supply infrastructure projects in California, including surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration, and drinking water protection.

Formerly known as the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, the bond aims to ensure reliable water supply in California and prevent drought.

UNICEF report estimates that majority of world's poor lack access to safe water

Lack of Water

Around 768 million people still do not have access to safe water according to UNICEF and WHO estimates. Most of these people are poor and live in remote rural areas or urban slums.

UNICEF has revealed that nearly 1,400 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases caused by lack of safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene.

The organisation is organising WASH programming in more than 100 nations, as well as new initiatives, such as cost-effective drilling and community-based water safety planning, which aim to bring safe water to families living in isolated regions.

San Antonio City Council in US approves 142-mile water pipeline project

San Antonio Pipeline

San Antonio City Council approved a contract with Vista Ridge Consortium for construction of a 142-mile pipeline, which will transport water from Burleson County to the city in Texas, US.

Through this pipeline, San Antonio Water System (SAWS) will bring 16.3 billion gallons of new non-Edwards Aquifer water per year over the next 30 years.

Abengoa and BlueWater Systems have formed the Vista Ridge Consortium, which has been allocated 30 months to arrange funds for the construction of the project.

After that, the consortium is expected to complete the project within 42 months.

POSCO E&C develops decentralised water supply system

South Korea-based construction company POSCO E&C developed a decentralised water supply system in co-ordination with K-water and Kolon Global.

The new innovation comprises a vertical system as its core technology and supplies water through decentralised water systems.

It can be installed at smaller locations as it does not require a large site.

This new system can reduce chlorine usage during water treatment by up to 50%, the company claimed.

Scottish Water and CENSIS join Strathclyde University for water technology project

Scottish Water joined in an academic partnership with the University of Strathclyde and CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensors and Imaging Systems, aiming to develop new data analysis software that can help water utilities to monitor their assets.

The new software will help utilities identify signals given out by the assets, which can be indicators for potential breakdown events.

Unlike the present solutions that alert when breakdown occurs, the proposed software intends to monitor data across multiple water infrastructure assets and meters, in order to detect signals beforehand for necessary maintenance operations ahead.

CITIC and KKR offer $1.5bn to buy United Envirotech

Chinese conglomerate CITIC and US private equity firm KKR teamed up to buy Singapore-based water treatment company United Envirotech for $1.5bn.

United Envirotech offers membrane-based water and wastewater treatment and reclamation solutions to businesses across chemical, petrochemical and industrial park sectors in China.

The pre-conditional voluntary offer by the consortium values United Envirotech at around S$1.9bn ($1.47bn) on a fully diluted basis.

UK scientists invent Aquavus technology for desalination and water purification


UK scientists and engineers invented Aquavus, an advanced system that can be used to desalinate and purify ocean water with ultrasound waves.

According to Aquavus team CFO Paul Rewrie, a single unit of the purification system can treat 3,000l (around 800 gallons) of water daily.

National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU) former lead manager Dr Vladimir Shkapa heads the international R&D team for Aquavus, which comprises experts from Ukraine and other former USSR countries.