The Saudi Arabian National Water Company: Preserving the future of Saudi Arabia’s water reserves

April 7, 2017 in Infrastructure

Whilst oil remains an essential element of the Saudi Arabian economy, careful conservation of that other most precious of commodities: water, is now in the hands of the National Water Company.

The National Water Company (NWC), a Saudi joint stock company fully owned by the government (namely the Public Investment Fund), was established to provide water and wastewater treatment services in accordance with the latest international standards. This is achieved by the concerted efforts of national cadres in partnership with carefully selected international operators through foreign PPP.

NWC specializes in providing the highest quality drinking water, ensuring the presence of water and wastewater connections in all households, preserving natural water resources and the environment, using the Treated Sewage Effluent (TSE) with maximum efficiency, and training qualified Saudi employees in accordance with the latest international standards.

The company’s vision is “to become a leading water utility company offering services of international standards”, while its mission is:

“To provide outstanding water and wastewater services in a credible, sustainable, and cost-effective approach, while earning the trust of our customers, employees, and community through an effective performance delivered by a commercial organization capable of constant development and growth.”

To reach its goals, requires constant funding and investment and in May 2010, NWC formed the Business Development Department.

“This department while strengthening and evolving its in-house capabilities to meet its objectives and challenges in the best possible manner has succeeded in achieving many important milestones in its journey ahead,” states the corporate website.

In 2012, progress was made on the privatisation of the company, with the introduction of a Business Privatisation Initiative (BPI) for progressing with the next step in the water and wastewater privatisation processes. The contract consisting of the financial/ commercial, technical and legal aspects of the business case was awarded to a consortium headed by KPMG and supported by AECOM and Al Jadaan / Clifford Chance combine.

NWC BOD approved the way forward and laid down the boundaries for the formation of a number of joint ventures, involving both international and local private sector companies.

According to the company website, “The first phase of privatisation which consisted of Management Contracts were awarded for the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah and Taif. On their successful completion NWC has embarked on the phase 2 of the privatisation journey. This will lead to long term lease / concession contract to global and local players in partnership with NWC.

“This is planned to be achieved through further PPP arrangements which will entail the establishment of independent Joint Venture (JV’s) across the country. These Joint Venture (JV’s) will consist of partnerships between NWC and private sector participants and will be selected to provide the best value for the country and NWC.”

NWC has embarked on a number of ambitious projects over the past few years, with industrial waste treatment being an important focus.

“In order to address this important and ever evolving subject of Environmental protection and to meet its growing standards, while providing to the country and its citizens a healthy, safe and sustainable environ​ment, the BDD was mandated to identify and develop a long term sustainable model to address the issue of industri​al sewage in areas outside the MODON operated industrial cities,” states the corporate website.
“This initiative involves the commercialisation of a “Pilot” newly-constructed and commissioned industrial waste water treatment plant , built by NWC during 2012. This plant is located in Jeddah which has a total capacity of 50,000 m3/day half of which is designed to handle the industrial waste.
“As a pre-cursor to this initiative, the BDD su​​​ccess in 2012 includes: Assisting the JCBU to implement and enforce a tariff structure for the industrial influent, both from truckers and network   connections; the collection of the tariffs since 2012 and receipt of actual revenues of SAR 2.8 mil  during 2012 related to the acceptance of tankered industrial waste.
“NWC in line with the Business Privatisation Initiative, proposes to privatise the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant ( IWWTP ) located in Jeddah, by granting a long term concession to use IWWTP assets in collaboration with local & international  private sector partner ( PSP ) of repute, with technical and operational expertise, for value. This plant along with certain other related assets will be concessioned to a JV, where NWC will be a shareholder.”
Education is another crucial element to the long-term conservation of water in the Kingdom.

“In order to harness the global expertise and strengthen the local skill-set of the country’s youth in the much promised activities relating to the Water & Waste Water sector and localise the human resource, the idea of setting up a Technical training for NWC was floated. The mandate was to set up a centre for the GCC/MENA.

“This will be facilitated by the creation of a national training centre to be known as the National Water Polytechnic jointly with TVTC & KAUST participation which will be operated and managed by global leading companies in the Water & Wastewater sector, along with reputed local companies,” the corporate website states.

Of course many projects remain ongoing and NWC is working in partnership with TYPSA to provide construction management and works supervision services for the Riyadh Drinking Water Supply Plan. Works include 252 kilometres of supply pipes up to 2.4 metres in diameter as well as water tanks capable of holding over 1.25 million million3 of water.

This is one of many projects underway and in May 2015 Arab News reported that the company had

stated that it has 301 water projects valued at SR25.2 billion ($6.7 billion) in the fields of service, infrastructure development and water treatment in Makkah, Riyadh, Taif and Jeddah.

The number of projects implemented in these cities stood at 174 involving a total cost of SR19.7 billion, while those in the contract signing stage stood at 127 with a cumulative value of over SR5.5 billion.

NWC said this is within the framework of its strategic plan covering the four cities. The data is based on the master plan for each city in the light of the feasibility study involving the cost of various projects.

The company said these projects aim to raise the operational efficiency and increase coverage ratios in populated areas taking into account the water demand and provide services in accordance with the best international standards.

“The most important of these projects are the water tanks in the cities of Makkah, Riyadh and Jeddah as well as the rehabilitation, removal and treatment lines, networks and major sub-coverage. It also seeks to increase household water and sanitation connections ratios and transfer station meters,” NWC stated.

The NWC operates in accordance with regulatory procedures to offer projects on the local and global level. This is done with a view to localizing new technologies in the implementation of projects and ensuring the rehabilitation of contractors in accordance with the best international standards mechanisms. The measure will help achieve quality projects with better standards of performance in the water and environmental services sector.