The Sulaibiya plant was built because Kuwait’s oldest wastewater treatment facility, located in nearby Ardiya, had reached capacity and could not be expanded. The location was chosen because 60 per cent of the country’s population live within its catchment area.

It was the first privately developed utility facility in Kuwait and is owned and operated by Utilities Development Company (UDC), a joint venture of the local Mohamed Abdulmohsin al-Kharafi & Sons and the US’ GE Water Process & Technologies, under a 30-year concession.

The plant was commissioned in late 2004. It has a design capacity of 425,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d). It cost $390m to develop and was funded by domestic banks.

Sulaibiya is the only wastewater treatment plant in Kuwait able to produce potable water, although it is just used for agriculture and aquifer recharge.

As the plant is running above its design capacity, UDC is expanding it to increase capacity to 600,000 cm/d. The local Kharafi National was awarded a $150m contract to carry out work in 2010. It is due for completion this year.

The Ardiya plant now acts as a preliminary treatment facility for Sulaibiya.