Chief Executive Officer of the National Water Company (NWC) Lauay Al-Musallam says the company will solve the water challenges facing Jeddah. He outlines the company’s plans in a wide-ranging interview with Nadim Al-Hamid of Arab News.
What are the costs and deadlines for the company's latest projects in Jeddah?
I will outline the projects in terms of priority. There are six water projects worth about SR 769 million that include water networks in un-served areas, household water connections and strategic storage to be completed by the end of 2015.
We have 44 environmental services projects at a cost of SR 4,857 million that include operational projects, supply projects, supervision services, studies and design of the sewer networks, waste water treatment plants, pumping stations and excess and surplus lines to be finished by the end of 2017.
There are 15 projects to ensure sanitary connections for households worth SR 965 million by the end of 2015.
In addition, there are four projects under way to reduce the level of surface water at a cost of SR 99 million. We will do this by pumping out water and tackling leaks from the sewage system. These should be completed by the end of 2013.
When will long-suffering Jeddah residents no longer have to depend on water tankers?
There is currently insufficient water coming into the city from the desalination plants to meet the rapidly growing urban population. The National Water Company is working hard to end this suffering.
We are working to complete an integrated water and waste water Master Plan for the city of Jeddah by identifying current and future consumption and the required developmental projects.
We are also coordinating efforts with the General Establishment of Water Desalination to ensure their expansion plans can meet Jeddah's needs throughout the year.
What's your assessment of the NWC's water conservation campaign?
The campaign has achieved its goals in raising public awareness of the importance of water conservation in the media and elsewhere. More than 11,688 people visited our stands in Jeddah and Riyadh. We have also distributed more than 10,230 tool kits on how to conserve water.
We are also working with schools to develop a "Water Ambassadors" program. The aim is to educate the younger generation on the importance of water conservation.
What action is the NWC taking to tackle illegal operators selling water tankers at excessive prices on the black market?
An operator faces a fine of SR 3,000 for failing to comply with these procedures. We also place labels of official prices on tankers for clients. We have a 24-hour toll-free call center where people can lodge complaints.
When will the city's longstanding and chronic sewage problems be solved?
The National Water Company is working on a comprehensive operational plan for the implementation of the sewage system in Jeddah that includes waste water treatment plants, tunnels, main and sub lines and household connections targeting 138,000 households by 2015.
The first phase includes 60,000 connections to neighborhoods between Palestine Street in the south, and boundaries of the Royal Hall in the north. Companies will be able to bid for 11 projects, to install 45,000 connections worth SR 590 million, by the middle of this year.
The NWC has already completed more than 20,000 waste water household connections in certain neighborhoods.
The NWC will start the second phase of household connections in mid-2013. This includes about 78,000 waste water household connections.
The third and last phase will begin in 2015 for the installation of around 30,000 household connections in the neighborhoods located south of Jeddah. There will also be 50,000 connections for the northern region of Jeddah.
All three phases will ensure the company covers about 85 percent of the populated areas in Jeddah.
Can you provide details on the NWC's plan to build water reservoirs?
An international consulting company was awarded the contract in 2012 to design and plan the strategic water storage and is about to complete its work.
The NWC has also awarded the contract to design and construct the first phase of the Briman Strategic Water Reservoir with a capacity to hold 1.5 million cubic meters of water. The project will be completed in 24 months. The NWC is putting out tenders for the second phase of the reservoir with a capacity of 1.5 million cubic meters.
The purpose of all these projects is to store six million cubic meters of drinking water, especially to ensure adequate supply during the pilgrim (Haj and Umrah) seasons.
How much water is being lost from leakages in the system and how do you plan to tackle this problem? Also, are these leaks caused by an aging water system?
We don't know all the reasons for the leaks. The supposed age of the network is only one of many. We have for example the quality of the implementation of the network, house connections, the work of contractors and other services that may cause breakages and other problems. It is important to upgrade the network. The company has already started gathering data, conducting technical surveys and using computer programs to define replacement priorities in Jeddah neighborhoods.
The work has been divided into three stages and will take place until 2035. The cost of projects for 2013 is SR 35 million. The total cost is expected to be SR 750 million.
Water leaks have been reduced from 30 percent in 2009, to 18 percent in 2012, saving 16 million cubic meters in Jeddah alone.