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Colombian tourist town gets wastewater solution

The town of Tolu, on the Caribbean coast of northern Colombia, will soon have cleaner beaches thanks to a new wastewater treatment solution from Xylem. The solution is based on the Xylem Sanitaire ICEAS process, which delivers substantial cost savings and operational advantages.

As a popular tourist town for Colombians, Tolu needed a wastewater solution that would help keep its beaches clean and reduce bad smells. Xylem was selected to develop a secondary wastewater treatment solution that will not only eliminate effluent odor problems and significantly improve the quality of wastewater, but will also take up less space so that land is freed up for other uses.

The solution is based on the Sanitaire Intermittent Cycle Extended Aeration (ICEAS) process, which has several advantages compared to conventional activated sludge and other sequencing batch reactor (SBR) technology. Unlike a conventional activated sludge plant, Sanitaire ICEAS does not require primary and secondary settlement tanks, but instead provides continuous inflow in a single basin. The continuous inflow provides equal loading and flow to all basins, thereby simplifying operation and process control while reducing costs.

The Xylem Sanitaire ICEAS system, to be complete in November 2013, integrates the aeration system, decanters, blowers, monitoring, controls and instrumentation. The wastewater treatment solution in Tolu will also be one of the first systems in Colombia to use ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. Xylem’s WEDECO TAK UV disinfection system and Xylem’s Flygt sludge pumps will be included in the installation.

The Xylem solution will enable the plant to achieve effluent quality that far exceeds local regulatory standards, while at the same time delivering cost savings in relation to maintenance of approximately 11 percent annually.

Good for the environment and economy

“We are delighted to be partnering with the authorities in Tolu to develop this innovative solution that will enhance people’s lives,” says Juan Contreras, project manager for Xylem Colombia, “as well as providing a sustainable wastewater solution that will benefit the local environment.” 

In addition to boosting the local economy, the improved quality of effluent from the plant will mean that wastewater can be reused for domestic, agricultural and tourism activities. The new solution will also require a much smaller area of just 400 square meters, compared to the traditional lagoons it will replace which were 15,000 square meters. The resulting available land will be used for commercial purposes and to accommodate a water reservoir.

“As well as dramatically improving the region’s wastewater quality this new system from Xylem will have a very positive knock-on effect on the local ecosystem and the environment in the region as a whole,” says Eduardo Ghisays, Director, Consortium Aguas Del Golfo, the group responsible for developing the new plant. “Tolu boasts one kilometer of beautiful coastline – the cleanliness of these beaches will be enhanced by this new system, which we anticipate will boost tourism in the region.”

Read more about Xylem’s treatment solutions.

by Simon