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Befesa to construct the largest electrodialysis reversal plant for water reuse in Baix Llobregat (Barcelona)

The state-owned company Depurbaix, under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Maritime Development, has awarded Befesa, under a joint venture with ACSA, the more than 13 million euro contract for project design and construction of the desalination plant for part of the effluent treated at Baix Llobregat wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).

The company Depuradora del Baix Llobregat, S.A. (Depurbaix) manages construction of the sewer, treatment and reuse system within the metropolitan area of Barcelona, where more than 60 percent of the entire population of Catalonia and a large part of its economic and industrial activity are concentrated.

The awarded project, which will allow the provision of 18.8 cubic hectometers per year of water for agricultural purposes while freeing extractive flows for potable use, is part of the largest water reuse project in Spain, aimed at compensating the deficit of hydraulic resources of the area for ecologic and environmental uses. Reuse of treated water reduces draw-offs from subterranean waters and prevents overexploitation of these resources. This is a solution to water scarcity that meets sustainability criteria and contributes to policies promoting conservation of hydric resources.

The desalination plant will produce 57,024 cubic meters of water per day via the EDR (electrodialysis reversal) process and will become the world’s largest wastewater reuse facility of these characteristics and the second EDR with any type of water. Water from the tertiary treatment process at Baix Llobregat treatment plant will be treated in it. Given that the water obtained will be utilized for agricultural irrigation purposes, a greater quantity of conventional resources will be supplied for consumption in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

Electrodialysis reversal (EDR) is a separation process utilizing membranes that allow elimination of salinity from water. It has other advantages over other technologies as regards equipment design and properties of the membranes utilized, and it is also less demanding as regards pretreatment necessities.

Befesa has employed this technology on, among other activities, the reuse of waters from Barranco Seco WWTP, in Las Palmas of Gran Canaria which, to date, is still Europe’s largest membrane technology water reuse facility (26,000 cubic meters per day).