Fouka Desalination Plant, Tipaza, Algeria

Fouka Desalination Plant is a sea water reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination facility located in Fouka, in the Tipaza province of Algeria. It was commissioned in August 2011 and was built with a total capital expenditure of $185m.

The facility is built to cover the potable water needs of the region of Zeralda and the western part of Algiers, which is the capital and largest city of Algeria.

The daily water treatment capacity of the plant is 120,000 cubic metres. It is expected to serve a population of more than half a million people.

Purpose and need for the Algerian, Tipaza-based desalination plant

"The Fouka desalination project reached financial closure in January 2008. Crédit Populaire d'Algérie (CPA) provided 80% of the total investment."

The desalination plant in Fouka was built as part of a multibillion desalination capacity building programme which was launched by the Algerian Government in 2007. With this programme, the government intends to build 12 desalination plants that can produce a total of 2.2 million cubic metres of water a day.

Algeria has a very restricted area for cultivation as more than 90% of the national territory is covered by the Sahara Desert. Water is extremely scarce and the country is heavily dependent on the import of grains for consumption.

It is feared that this crisis is likely to get bigger as per person water availability in northern Africa is estimated to be reduced to 80% by 2040.

Due to this, the government is making huge investments in developing seawater desalination projects. The new installations, when completed, will contribute about 70 litres per capita per day to the drinking water supply.

Fouka SWRO (sea water reverse osmosis) facility details

The Fouka desalination plant project involved construction of a desalination facility and associated infrastructure. The plant uses reverse osmosis (RO) technology to turn saline sea water into fresh water.

The feed water for the process is taken through an open intake system located about 1,800m offshore. The intake system is connected to the plant via a pipeline measuring 1,600mm in diameter. Length of the brine outfall pipeline is 380m and measures 1,200mm in diameter.

The pre-treatment facility comprises sand and cartridge filtration, as well as chemical dosing.

Under-drain filter and energy recovery devices / technology

Overall performance and operation of the pre-treatment system of a desalination plant is very much dependent on the type of under-drain filter. The Fouka plant's pre-treatment system is installed with Tetra LP Block dual parallel under-drain filters, which were designed and fabricated by Severn Trent Services-Apliclor, a supplier of water and wastewater treatment systems.

The LP Blocks have a Grout Grip design, which adds to the adhesion of the filter base and eliminates airiness issues.

The plant is equipped with 138 PX-220 energy recovery devices supplied by Energy Recovery. These devices together can save more than 113,000MWh of energy a year. Each PX (pressure exchanger) device handles brine flow rates of 40 to 50 cubic metres an hour.

Project financing and key contractors involved with the Fouka complex

The Fouka desalination project reached financial closure in January 2008. Crédit Populaire d'Algérie (CPA), an Algerian commercial bank, has provided 80% of the total investment.

"The facility is built to cover potable water needs of Zeralda and the western part of Algiers, the capital and largest city of Algeria."

The remaining 20% came from a public-private partnership of Acciona, SNC-Lavalin and the Algerian Energy Company (AEC).

The project was completed on a design, build, own, operate and transfer (DBOOT) basis by Myah Tipaza, a consortium owned 51% by Algerian Water Investment and 49% by Algerian Energy Company (AEC), a publicly-owned Algerian economic enterprise. The Algerian Water Investment company itself is a joint venture, formed by Acciona Agua of Spain and SNC-Lavalin of Canada. Both companies have 25.50-25.50% shares in the joint venture.

The Acciona Agua - SNC-Lavalin joint venture will operate the plant for a period of 25 years.

The plant's entire production will be sold to Algérienne des eaux and Sonatrach, two wholly-owned companies of the Algerian Government.

Pipelife, a manufacturer of plastic pipes and fittings, supplied pipes for the intake water pipeline and brine outfall pipeline.