The National Water Company (NWC) of Saudi Arabia will have signed agreements by the end of this year to supply treated sewage effluent (TSE) covering a total of 700,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d), the MEED Water & Wastewater Conference was told on 27 November.

This compares with about 5 million cm/d of water being consumed in Saudi Arabia’s six major cities.

“We have built this sector from scratch,” said Nasser al-Amri, head of TSE business unit at NWC. “We are focusing on industries and utilities, commercial property owners and commercial farmers.”

Al-Amri said the NWC, which was established in 2008, has agreements covering 500,000 cm/d of TSE and this will rise to 700,000 cm/d once new agreements are signed in December. The agreements involve NWC supplying TSE in return for payments in long-term agreements.

NWC forecasts TSE demand in the kingdom’s largest 15 cities and towns will rise to 6 million cm/d in 2030.

Al-Amri said NWC projects completed include the draining of the wastewater lake near Jeddah in 2010 and a similar project in Riyadh in 2011. The NWC built 38,000 new wastewater connections in 2011.

The company supplied 2.73 million cm/d of water on average in 2011.

Saudi Arabia’s daily water consumption is estimated this year to have risen to about 60 million cm/d in 2012. Agriculture accounts for about 70 per cent of this figure.