Kuwait’s Council of Ministers has approved plans to expand the country’s largest wastewater treatment facility from a capacity of 425,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d) to 600,000 cm/d.

The Sulaibiya wastewater treatment and reclamation plant was originally constructed as a build-own-transfer (BOT) project by Utilities Development Company (UDC). UDC was established in 2001 by the local MA Kharafi & Sons and US company Ionics (now a part of GE). UDC will undertake the expansion project. Austria-based consultancy firm ILF Consulting Engineers is advising on the project.

Kuwait’s Public Works Ministry awarded the contract for the original wastewater project in 2002. When the project entered operation in 2004, it was the first infrastructure facility of its size to be executed on a BOT basis and was the largest of its kind using reverse osmosis in the reclamation of domestic wastewater.

When it began operations, the plant had an initial treatment capacity of up to 425,000 cm/d of raw domestic wastewater. The 30-year concession period began on in July 2002. The Sulaibiya plant treats about 60 per cent of Kuwait’s total domestic wastewater.

The expansion to 600,000 cm/d is urgently needed in Kuwait. Within a few years of operation, the Sulaibiya plant was operating in excess of its capacity, with a daily throughput of more than 500,000 cm/d. The Sulaibiya plant is not the only facility working under immense strain. Kuwait has three other treatment facilities running overcapacity.