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Water differently in a changing world

Water differently in a changing world. A vast subject and a resource whose quantity never changes. But although the quantity does not change, its quality, its geographical distribution and its accessibility vary. Today, the world of water is changing. It faces three major issues: scarcity, environmental pollution, and new risks linked to micropollution, climate change and terrorist threats.

> 3 planetary issues disrupting the world of water



With the demographic explosion (the population will reach 10 billion in 40 years), increasing urbanization (66% of the world’s population will live in cities in 2050) and a drastic change in the lifestyle of the middle classes (in 2015, emerging countries accounted for 70% of global demand for domestic equipment compared with 50% in 2000), there isn’t enough water for everyone in the places where it is needed. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization in its “Coping with water scarcity” report, 40% of the world’s population already lives in areas affected by water stress. By 2025, more than 1.8 billion people will live in conditions of absolute water stress and more than two-thirds of the world’s population will experience water-related problems. Alternative solutions already exist, including reusing wastewater and desalinating seawater.


Environmental pollution 

Episodes of massive seaweed invasions in China, California, and France have raised awareness about the fragility of water resources. Strong policies about discharging into natural environments need to be implemented by the decision-makers. According to the United Nations, more than 80% of the world’s wastewater is discharged into watercourses without any form of treatment – which is wasteful not only because water can be reused more than once but also because it contaminates natural environments and makes it more difficult to access good quality water.


New risks

In recent years new threats have emerged that will have a significant impact on water resources in the future. These include the risks related to micropollution associated with the massive use of new chemical molecules – for example endocrine disruptors. The second type of threat, linked to the instability of the world we live in, is the rise of terrorism, which nowadays affects not only nation states but also the people themselves. Water facilities, watercourses, and water networks have become potential targets and many countries are taking measures to protect their most critical facilities. Finally, the third worrying threat: climate change. Currently 90% of natural disasters are either water- related or have an impact on the resource. Climate disruption – floods, storms, droughts, coastal flooding – is likely to increase this proportion resulting in further security risks in relation to food, health, energy and the environment, ultimately leading to the risk of conflict. These new threats require the development of resilience strategies.

> New expectations for our customers

Macroeconomic issues affecting water resources are changing our customers’ priorities. The world must adapt to these changes and risks, but in reality it is our customers who face these challenges on a daily basis.



 Water quality and continuity of service
It is a fundamental need in developing countries and, on another scale, in developed countries. We therefore continue to develop innovative solutions, making it possible to regularly optimize the quality of the service. This includes digitizing our solutions: hypervision centres for essential services operators, the Urban Board dashboard to give elected officials an overview of their cities and, lastly, the Urban Pulse application to facilitate the city for its citizens and allow them to act through the CityFix function. 

• Access to resources and social inclusion.
For Veolia, access to water encompasses not only access to the physical resource through solutions that avoid waste and more effectively distribute it, but also social accessibility. In Nagpur, India, we have provided 6.5 million people with access to safe drinking water and 3 million people with access to wastewater services. This falls within the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In France we have set up a solidarity water program with payment schedules, and the distribution of water vouchers through social action community centres (CCAS - Centres Communaux d’Action Sociale). For example, for the SEDIF contract, 1% of the contract’s revenues are devoted to the solidarity water program. From 2012 to 2024, the duration of the new contract, it will represent a total of 25 million euros.

• Cost control. Everywhere in the world,
public finances are stretched. We have support measures adapted to each place, which, without altering the quality of the service, optimizes costs. This for example comes through water service energy efficiency and through all our solutions guaranteeing operational performance that is unparalleled anywhere in the world.

• Anticipating terrorist risks and resilience. 
The risks to cities are increasing. Cities are demanding more support in order to be able to anticipate and manage crises. This is what Veolia did for example in Tianjin when the
water was contaminated with cyanide during the summer of 2015.

Through our solutions, we want to help cities become more resilient to extreme events, smarter, more prudent in their use of natural resources, more inclusive and finally, in order to attract the most demanding of city dwellers, more pleasant to live in.




• Optimizing overall costs.
Manufacturers need to ensure they are economically efficient. This positions us at another level, no longer that of a simple subcontractor but a strategic partner – a partner in their competitiveness and development. For example, by transforming 98% of its wastewater into green energy (biogas), the Mars plant in Veghel in the Netherlands (the largest confectionery manufacturing plant in the world), will reduce its energy bills by 10%.

• Reduction of environmental footprints.
While many companies are making increasingly ambitious commitments in terms of the environment, reducing their carbon, water, and energy footprints is a major challenge. Danone and Veolia have decided to work together on four themes: water cycle management, waste management, sustainable agriculture, and energy efficiency. The partnership concluded at COP 21 is aimed in particular at achieving Danone’s sustainable development objectives: a 60% reduction in water consumption on its sites by 2020, halving its CO2 emissions by 2020, followed by their total elimination by 2050.

• Reputation.
The issue of reputation is a key for mainstream brands that are potentially exposed to militant campaigns. By giving strong guarantees on all our services we have succeeded in winning the trust of the biggest food industry brands and the oil and gas sector, for example. Nestlé, Coca Cola, Danone, Mendelez, Shell, Chevron, Total and many others entrust us with managing their industrial water, knowing that their reputations will be protected.

• Stricter regulation.
Around the world, regulations are becoming increasingly stringent, both in terms of the quality of water discharged into the natural environment and the amounts extracted. China now applies the toughest regulations in the world. This is one of the reasons why Sinopec, the petrochemical giant, has entrusted us with managing the complete water cycle at its Yanshan site near Beijing. 

• Obtaining and maintaining operating licences.
Public authorities and civil society expect industry to limit pollution and withdrawals from nature as much as possible in order to avoid conflicts of use where resources are scarce and precious. Protecting their operating rights is paramount for the extractive industries. For Anglogold Ashanti in Ghana, Veolia has operated and maintained the water treatment plant at the Iduapriem mine since 2014. During the two years of the initial contract, Veolia has contributed significantly to the environmental performance of AngloGold Ashanti, which renewed its contract with us in 2016

In Asia and America, Europe and the Middle East, giant companies are driving the global economy. Veolia wants to be associated with their growth, and is positioning itself not as a subcontractor but as a strategic partner, i.e. a partner in their competitiveness and development.



> Integrated approach and innovation / Veolia's response to the new water issues  

Veolia is today in the best position to respond to the new challenges and priorities of our customers in terms of water, whether they be municipal or industrial. Water cannot only be considered an economic good, a convenience. It is an environmental and social good, making its management more difficult and complex. The technical, institutional, organizational, and regulatory aspects must all be considered in addition to all the financial, societal, and environmental issues. We never look at the subject of water in isolation but as the sum of interdependent issues. Only a global approach, such as that of Veolia, will make it possible to meet all these needs today and tomorrow.

When our Australian mining customers call on us, it is not only for our operational know-how, but also for our ability to develop a local economy in partnership with them that benefits the entire population, and in particular the aboriginal people to whom we offer training. 

In Durban, South Africa, by reusing the city’s wastewater for local industry, we certainly bring our technical and operational know-how, but above all we make it possible for the most disadvantaged people to benefit from secure access to water. In fact some of the profits realized on this contract are used to finance access. All our social engineering is at work through our comprehensive approach.

In addition we are now one of the only players in the world of water to combine the skills and expertise of both operator and equipment supplier. This guarantees the most detailed knowledge of the market and the capability to meet all the challenges.It is this integrated approach, as much in the solutions we provide to our customers as in the way we combine our water, energy and materials expertise, combined with a unique capacity for innovation, which allows us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. With an extensive geographic footprint, dedicated research and innovation, and a full range of services Veolia is now in the best position to seize opportunities in the water market.


> Our solutions compensating for scarcer water resource 



Located 50 km from Beijing city centre, Yanshan Petrochemical is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sinopec. Across the country, the complex is one of the largest production sites for high-quality synthetic rubber and resin, phenol, acetone and refined petroleum products. It processes more than 10 million tonnes of crude oil and produces 800,000 tonnes of ethylene per year.


Building on the ties of mutual trust established in their previous collaborations, Veolia and Beijing Yanshan Petrochemical decided to extend the scope of their partnership to the management of the entire water cycle on the Yanshan site, in particular cooling water, demineralised water, industrial water, drinking water, chilled water, wastewater, and the fire water loop. Veolia will optimize the water consumption on the site and increase the water-recycling rate. These improvements will directly reduce freshwater consumption and Beijing Yanshan Petrochemical’s water footprint – a significant step forward in a region that faces a water deficit and shortages. Veolia also has the task of modernizing the wastewater treatment plant in order to bring it into line with the latest and most stringent standards in the Beijing area. Finally, the contract provides for the implementation of a comprehensive energy optimization program, covering all the water production facilities on the site.



Since 2001, the WinGOC consortium (Veolia 34%, Berlinwasser International 33%, and VA Tech Wabag 33%) transforms wastewater from the city of Windhoek into drinking water. 

Capital of Namibia, Windhoek is a city with 350,000 inhabitants that is affected by frequent droughts and recurring shortages of drinking water. More than a quarter of the water consumed by the inhabitants of the city is supplied by the WinGOC plant. This project, in which Veolia plays a crucial role, is a global pioneer. Windhoek is the only place where recycled drinking water is available on a large scale, with a demand for quality and costs that meets the world’s best standards. A day to day challenge given the changing characteristics of the wastewater arriving at the plant. WinGOC has a water production capacity of 21,000 m3 of water per day, a volume that is essential in meeting the local demand, which is rising by 3% per year. Although still confronted by psychological and cultural barriers, this process is nevertheless an innovative and promising water recycling solution for other regions of the world. 



In Oman, 160 km south-west of Muscat, Veolia has been fighting the depletion of water resources since 2007 by treating more than 200,000 m3 of seawater daily. 350,000 people in the Sharqiyah region are supplied by the Sur plant, which produces 80,000 m3 of drinking water per day using reverse osmosis.

In 2015, Veolia, in partnership with the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), expanded the plant’s processing capacity by 51,000 m3 per day.

The plant recycles more than 97% of the energy used in the treatment process, which represents savings of around 40% compared with a conventional installation. Seawater is supplied from 28 beach wells with depths of up to 80 m. This high-pressure process (60 bar) eliminates the chemical pre-treatment step, thus ensuring minimal impact on marine and coastal ecosystems.

The water is then treated by a series of filters to remove particles and salt. Reverse osmosis membranes guarantee a final product that meets the most stringent international standards. The water is then remineralized to make it potable.



Sidem, Veolia’s engineering subsidiary, built the 487,000 m3 per day thermal desalination plant in Az Zour North in southern Kuwait.

As of the end of 2016 and at the start of production, the plant covers 20% of the country’s installed capacity. Sidem is one of the only companies in the world to master the Multi- Effect Distillation (MED) technology, which is considered to be the most efficient when coupled with electricity production. This desalination process is in fact less energy intensive than other technologies. It does not require pre-treatment of the seawater before desalination and is one of the most reliable and flexible technologies in terms of the heat sources required. A MED desalination unit consists of an evaporator in which the seawater is evaporated in one or more stages (up to 14) at low temperature (<70 °C) to produce clean distilled water. The salt is separated from the water by evaporation in a distillation system. The MED reuses the energy produced by the steam condensation, thus reducing the energy consumption needed to heat the water.

> Our solutions for optimizing the quality of the water service



With ServO, SEDIF and Veolia have opened the management centre for the largest water service in France. A state-of-theart integrated management centre, ServO is now operational and is currently processing 1,250 billion pieces of data for an unsurpassed quality of service covering an area of 4.5 million people.

At the heart of the complex and highly urban environment of the regional capital, SEDIF’s high demands for its users require a unique management tool and constant responsiveness. It incorporates all parts of the service:
• produce and distribute high quality water in sufficient quantity in all operating configurations
• ​respond to any event affecting the production, distribution, or quality of water
•​ provide water users with accurate, real-time information
• ​guarantee the technical performance of the network.

ServO provides the decision-making support essential to the continuity of the water supply, consumer safety, crisis prevention, and crisis management. It also allows operators to implement strategies that optimize energy consumption, their environmental impact, and operating costs.


Since 2002, in the Pudong district of Shanghai, Veolia has managed one of the largest public-private partnership contracts for the operation of a public drinking water service in China. In all, more than 4.2 million inhabitants are served, 4,470 km of distribution network is monitored and controlled 24/7 and 1.6 million m3 are consumed per day. Over the past 14 years, the Pudong integrated water control centre has become a global expertise platform for implementing the most innovative drinking water management technologies. It enables the 34 sectors of the drinking water distribution network to be monitored in real time using in particular 400 measurement instruments which locate and visualize leaks or pollution. With a few clicks, the operators responsible for the network have access to 3D views of all the installations and the corresponding technical data. The centre is in permanent interface with its operators who provide Veolia customers with a continuous flow of data on response times, the location of the teams, maintenance of structures and emergency management. In addition, Veolia and its partners have set up the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) centre which provides efficient management of network operations and exemplary monitoring of water quality by a stateof-the-art laboratory.



Commissioned in Prague in 2014 by Veolia and Pražské Vodovody a Kanalizace (PVK), the operator responsible for water services in Prague, the latest version of SWiM (Smart Water Integrated Management) is an integrated water management system especially for smart cities.

In a city housing 1.2 million people, the main challenge for PVK was to ensure continuous supervision of its water infrastructure while also giving priority to informing and dialoguing with users. With SWiM, Veolia provides high-tech control of the production and consumption of water and of the collection of wastewater. In the management centre covering the entire water cycle, the technicians manage and control the distribution of 114.5 million m3 of drinking water through a 3,495 kilometre long network serving 109,459 supply points (water meters) to the entire population of Prague. This extremely accurate control is done with the utmost care for the quality of the drinking water and the management of the wastewater by means of instantaneous monitoring of the condition of the pipes. 

Meeting European requirements, SWiM provides PVK with direct access to information for better communication with customers and the general public, cost optimization, real-time incident management and preventive infrastructure maintenance programming. Customers have instant access to a current alerts map to view progress reports on ongoing incidents and failures. Users are kept informed via the SWiM website by alerts sent 

by text message, and can even follow the progress of the operation on a map of Prague. The water leak and pipe break detection times have been considerably reduced.

> Our solutions to prevent the new risks to water resources



In 2005, Hurricane Katrina, the most expensive disaster in US history, devastated the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. 80% of New Orleans was flooded and 1,800 people lost their lives. To protect against similar events, or any other shocks or chronic stress, the city has made it a priority to better understand its exposure to risks and transform its urban system.

Resilience requires comprehensive risk management, combining physical and financial protection. This is all part of the risk assessment plan implemented by Veolia, Swiss Re and New Orleans in the framework of the world’s first public-private partnership for resilience. It aims to optimize prevention costs and reduce post-event losses, as well as recovery times.

Over a period of 4 months, 30 experts from Veolia and Swiss Re, in collaboration with  stakeholders in the city, studied 200 drinking water, wastewater, and storm drainage facilities in the city to determine their degree of vulnerability and recommend appropriate impact resistance measures. The results of this report will serve as the basis from which the city will strengthen the robustness of its installations.



Veolia is a pioneer and leader in network security. The rise in global threats has forced many countries to take steps to protect their critical facilities.

The Shanghai Universal Exhibition in 2010, the London Olympic Games in 2012, the Jeux de la Francophonie in Nice in 2013 and the COP21 in Paris in 2015: each time with the local authorities Veolia put its drinking water network monitoring system, including the KAPTA™ 3000 sensor, to the test. In real time this monitors the water quality in the networks and makes it possible to immediately raise the alarm in the event of a malfunction.




As part of the European BIOTTOPE (Life +) project, Veolia Research and Innovation and Watchfrog collaborated in the development of a flow reader to identify potential toxicity associated with the presence of endocrine disrupters in the effluent from wastewater treatment plants. The system, known as Frogbox™, is based on the use of live aquatic organisms (larvae of tadpoles and fry). Innovative genetic tagging technology renders these larvae fluorescent when in contact with endocrine disruptors.

Tests on the industrial prototype have been underway since the end of 2013 on the AQUIRIS site, the wastewater treatment plant in Brussels Nord. The final objective is to present analytical results directly on the Frogbox™ device that can be easily understood by an operator, thus making it possible to trigger any complementary treatment actions required before the water is discharged into the natural environment.


Drinking water production

"How and why, at a glance"
Seawater desalination

“How and why, at a glance”

Wastewater collection and treatment

“How and why, at a glance”