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Lessons Well-Learnt: Building Water Treatment Plants in Remote Settings

WEC Projects has been active across the African continent for over a decade, building bespoke conventional water treatment plants for a range of clients in the mining & industrial sectors as well as municipal clients. Each new project comes with its own set of challenges which drive us to continue to develop our product offering and optimise our project management processes going forward. The packaged water treatment plant project we completed in Northern Zambia was no exception.  

The Project requirements

  The project objective was to design, build and supply a water treatment plant which would be capable of treating 200kl/h of raw water. The raw water feed is the Iubu River, with the treated potable water supplying the village of Chinsali.  

Project challenges

  Due to the remote setting of this project, we were presented with a number of challenges in terms of supply and support. It was extremely difficult for our installation crew to source consumables and supplies during installation and commissioning. Intermittent power supply also hampered our installation and commissioning progress.   The site was characterised by excessive amounts of dust which got into the containerised plant room and some of the pipelines, eventually causing a blockage in the compressed air line and therefore limiting the pneumatic actuator operation. Thankfully our team is well versed with these types of difficulties and all challenges were overcome.  

Lessons learnt: overcoming these challenges

Manufacture, assembly and supplies:

  It is critical to implement formalised procedures that ensure all water treatment plants are test assembled before being dispatched to site. In this way we ensure cost-effective installations, as well as ensuring that sites are provided with all the necessary tools and equipment for a successful installation. For an excellent example of how this works, especially installations like containerised ultrafiltration plants, read this article on packaged wastewater treatment plants.  

Making use of generators/UPSs:

  In settings such as this with severe power difficulties it has since proven effective to make use of UPSs (uninterrupted power supplies) and generators to safeguard against this. By having these devices in place the installation crew is able to guarantee a near-constant power supply, ensuring that undue delays and damages due to power fluctuations are avoided.  

Innovative engineering and design:

  One of the greatest advantages offered by WEC Projects’ expert teams is our ability to design and engineer solutions for even the most challenging situations. For example, having identified the environmental factors which led to dirt blocking the compressor lines and actuators in this plant, our project manager was able to identify a solution for both these items. The actuator problem could be alleviated by implemented exhaust vents underneath, and the compressor lines could be aided by adding drain lines.  

The WEC Projects difference

  While challenges are an ever-present reality in the installation of any specialised or conventional water treatment plant, WEC Projects makes a point of turning this into a new means of excellence. This ability to learn, combined with our professional personnel, is what sets us apart both locally and abroad.   Discover what solutions we have made available for cleaner water in your setting.