Qatar’s Public Works Authority (Ashghal) is evaluating three bids for a feasibility study which could result in it outsourcing the operation and maintenance of the country’s wastewater network for the first time.

Two US firms, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Aecom, and the UK’s Hyder submitted bids for the study in mid-December. Ashghal is expected to award the contract by April.

The feasibility study is the first step towards outsourcing the operation and maintenance of the wastewater and treated effluent networks.

The winning consultant will, over a three-year period, examine Ashghal’s assets and propose a programme to update them and outsource operation and maintenance of the system.

Once the study is complete, Ashghal is expected to invite contractors to bid for several operation and maintenance contracts. These will cover a total of approximately 5,000 kilometres of wastewater collection and disposal networks, treated sewage networks, as well as surface water and rainwater networks.

Qatar has never applied this public-private partnership model to its wastewater networks or to the construction of wastewater treatment plants before. However, it has recently started awarding operation and maintenance contracts on its treatment facilities.

Ashghal is moving ahead with plans to add 80,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d) of capacity at its 112,000 cm/d Doha South wastewater treatment plant.

The client is evaluating financial bids for the expansion from a team of India’s Larsen & Toubro and the US’ ITT; France’s Veolia; South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering & Construction; Singapore’s Keppel Seghers; and Austria’s VA Tech Wabag. It is due to make an award by March and work is scheduled to begin in May.

Faced with the continuing expansion of Doha, Ashghal intends to relocate the Doha South wastewater treatment plant to Mesaieed, about 35 kilometres south of the capital. However, industry sources say this is unlikely to happen for another 15 years.

Under the relocation plan, the Doha South plant would be converted into a pumping station. Sewage will still be collected at the site, but from there it will be pumped southwest to Abu Nakhla before being transferred to Mesaieed for treatment. Thanks to Abu Nakhla’s elevation, the sewage will be moved to the new treatment plant using gravity sewers.