Rio de Janeiro opens waste treatment plant ahead of Olympics

01 July 2016

With the 2016 Summer Olympics fast approaching, efforts to prepare Brazil for the influx of visitors and participants is in full swing. One area highlighted is the water quality in Guanabara Bay, where several sporting events are planned. In an effort to reduce the raw sewage spilling into the bay, the region has begun several projects – including the Deodoro wastewater treatment plant in Rio the Janeiro, which, leveraging Dutch developed Nereda technology, provides a relatively effective means to treat the waste of 480,000 people before it enters the natural environment.

Guanabara Bay is located in Southeast Brazil in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It is straddled on its western shore by Rio de Janeiro and Duque de Caxias and on its eastern shore by Niterói and São Gonçalo. Due to its proximity to the four cities, and, among others, the low level of sewage treatment in the region – 70% of the sewage from 12 million inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro now flows into the water system untreated – the bay is, environmentally, in relative distress.

The bay will form part of the region in which the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be hosted, and as such, considerable attention has been paid to the levels of pollution in the bay in recent years – including calls from Dutch windsurfer and former Olympic and world champion Dorian van Rijsselberghe on the Dutch Government, business and civil society to support the cleanup efforts.

As part of the efforts to clean up the bay, €164 million has been invested into the Foz Águas 5 scheme, which aims to develop a number of sanitation works to improve the health of the local population and the environment. Included in the scheme is 200 km of new sewage networks, 11 pumping stations and 25 thousand household connections that that are planned as part of the first phase of investment. In addition, a new waste treatment plant was recently opened: the Deodoro wastewater treatment plant in Rio the Janeiro.

The plant leverages Nereda* technology, developed in part by Dutch educational institutions and the Dutch environmental consulting firm Royal HaskoningDHV. The new plant, which is owned and operated by Foz Aguas 5, is able to treat the wastewater of 480,000 people before it enters the natural environment – a 10 times increase in capacity of the region’s original plant. The plant is the first of its kind in South America, although an additional five plants are planned in Brazil.

Arjen Uijterlinde, Dutch Consul-General in Rio de Janeiro says, “The new water treatment installation in Deodoro – the first in the Americas with Dutch Nereda technology – will contribute to better living conditions of many thousands of inhabitants in these poorer parts of Rio and will help to make the Guanabara Bay cleaner. With only a couple of weeks left to go until the Olympics, the city of Rio is already celebrating this legacy and I am confident that other water sanitation projects will follow this lead.”

João Almeida, Director Quality, Water Products and Innovation at Royal HaskoningDHV says, “The Deodoro Nereda plant is not only a landmark project for its impressive capacity, but also for the actual contribution to the whole region of Rio de Janeiro. With an additional plant in Jardim Novo, Rio Claro under construction and several more under design in São Paulo and Recife we are looking forward to bringing Nereda technology to other regions in Brazil.”

Giancarlo Ronconi, Engineering Manager Odebrecht Ambiental, shareholder of Foz Águas 5 remarks, “We are true believers regarding Nereda technology – as matter of fact we understand that we are developing in conjunction with Royal HaskoningDHV, a breakthrough solution for large WWTP with high process efficiency and excellent cost benefit ratio”.

* Nereda is technique for water purification, based on a technological solution which uses aerobic granular mass. The technology uses less energy than current systems and has a small footprint. The technology took twenty years to develop and perfect, and provides a leap forward for water treatment options. The technology was developed in the Netherlands by Delft University, the Dutch Foundation for Applied Water Research (STOWA), the Dutch Water Boards and Royal HaskoningDHV.