Can you provide an overview of ADSSC and its core activities in Abu Dhabi?
ADSSC was formed in 2005, and our job is to be the main wastewater services provider in the Emirate. ADSSC operates about 40 treatment plants, over 300 pumping stations, and around 8,000km of pipeline across Abu Dhabi. All of our treatment plants treat wastewater to a high standard, meeting regulations for recycled water's reuse for “unrestricted" irrigation. Since 2005, we have spent over USD4.9 billion through our CAPEX investment scheme, including the Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Program (STEP), which cost approximately USD1.6 billion. Furthermore, we have grown our staff to over 600 people, of which 89% are Emirati. Our mission is to continue collecting wastewater and treating it to a high standard and be recognized as a world leader in sustainability, innovation, and efficiency in the provision of sewer services.
STEP has been one of ADSSC's flagship projects in the last decade. Besides STEP, what other critical projects has ADSSC overseen across Abu Dhabi?
We have completed more than 80 projects over the past ten years varying in size from simple collection networks, new and upgraded treatment facilities, a billion dirhams worth of recycled water transmission assets, and large trunk main augmentations schemes. We are currently constructing a replacement deep gravity sewer that will serve Khalifa A all the way to Shahama and onto Yas Island. This will allow for the decommissioning of the Yas Island treatment plant. In Muroor, we are removing two pumping stations in the central market area and have just finished the Baniyas deep trunk sewer, which cost approximately AED600 million. There are approximately 50 pumping stations that will be decommissioned because we have replaced them with deep gravity “interceptor" sewers, all of which will connect to the STEP integrated system. We have spent over USD135 million on collection network rehabilitation over the past five years. This has been a significant focus of our investment program, due to old and dilapidated sewers in some catchments. The capital program seeks to create further efficiency across the network, with an emphasis on rehabilitating existing assets and upgrading them, including pump station rehabilitation and treatment plant upgrades. These upgrades will see the introduction of newer technological innovations. We try to get the most out of existing assets, while also striving to reduce our carbon footprint.
The city of Abu Dhabi is highly urbanized, with pressure from population growth, climate change, and resource scarcity. How are you adapting your operating model to cope with this?
It can be a challenge to plan efficiently in a city that has an underlying growth of indigenous Emirati and transient expatriate populations, temporary workers, and increasing tourist occupancy. We have completed several master plans, although it is hard to predict geopolitical conditions and economic circumstances in this region, which are highly influenced by commodity price fluctuations such as the price of oil. Our CAPEX program has to be fully justified and prioritized while delaying investment until the optimum 'trigger' time. This way, we strive to get the most utility out of existing assets, maximize asset performance, and push the standards of sewer design to our benefit. With regard to population growth, we are fortunate that our treatment plants can process in excess of their design limit. Sewage in Abu Dhabi is mostly residential, with a small industrial element. We have recently seen flows decrease, possibly due to pressure on potable water tariffs and subsequent behavioral changes. We anticipate that the road corridor towards Dubai is going to get further developed, and we will most likely split our currently centralized catchment to cater to this.
What is ADSSC's perspective on the best ways to leverage innovative technologies?
We are exploring the use of asset data and introducing sewer failure prediction models. With diverse data systems, we intend to predict when a pipe will burst. This will allow us the deal with it before any collapse occurs. This will all be based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), using spatial data, digital CCTV data, and hydraulic models.