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Ageing water treatment plants: Seeking a longer-term solution

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Across the world, operators in heavy industries such as power, chemical, petrochemical, and refining are faced with the increasing challenge posed by their ageing assets, including water treatment plants. The degradation of these plants and equipment over time can be attributed to factors such as corrosion, erosion, and fatigue. Apart from safety concerns, ageing plants may also impact the continuity of production processes. These facilities become less reliable and efficient with time, and emergency maintenance is often required to avoid disruptions to production.

While heavy industry companies recognise water as a vital utility in many of their processes, it is often neglected and maintenance of water treatment plants do not rank high on their list of priorities. Furthermore, downtimes caused by issues with the degradation of these permanent onsite water treatment facilities can be costly and can cause major delays to production schedules.

The case for a longer-term solution

Most manufacturers who contend with the reliability of permanent ageing plants or desire to extend the potential lifecycle of these plants will need to schedule preventive maintenance and refurbishment frequently. Mobile water services may be brought in to either cover the entire water treatment system or a part of the treatment process during this interim period. Consequently, operators can ensure that production or business processes continue as usual — avoiding a costly downtime.

While emergency water treatment services have become a relatively well-established option by now, a growing number of operators are starting to recognise the need for a longer-term solution. Mobile water service providers can bridge this gap for operators — providing support until process inefficiencies or issues are rectified, or to offer the required mobile water treatment systems for an extended period of time to cope with peaks in production or unexpected changes to the raw water supply.

For scheduled turnarounds that involve a total suspension of operational activities, any delays can have serious financial consequences. It is essential to have an efficient, reliable water supply available whenever required. In the case of a multinational oil and gas company, a turnaround had been scheduled but the refinery needed an extra back-up supply of demineralised water during the subsequent start-up phase. An additional 200 m3/hr of demineralised water was needed for both the operation and as a standby — running in parallel with the company’s own water plant. Veolia’s Mobile Water Services provided a four-trailer configuration to guarantee the water supply and to meet the water specifications, including a conductivity of <0.1 µS/cm and <10 ppm of SiO2. With a plan and agreement already in place, the Mobile Water Services team was able to offer a reliable and secure back-up with fast deployment and commissioning.

Furthermore, tightening CAPEX budgets, an emphasis on business continuity, and a desire for flexible and affordable water management has made longer-term asset rental an attractive alternative to high upfront investment in permanent water treatment technology. With one of the key attractions of mobile water services being its flexibility, operators can avoid having to raise capital as rental payments can be covered by the operational budget. Mobile water service suppliers, such as Veolia Water Technologies, are also often able to implement pay-as-you-go, multi-year contracts — which enables better financial planning, owing to the predictable and regular payments. This has generated a greater demand for mobile water services, which offer companies a cost-effective alternative to procuring new upgrades, in addition to providing emergency relief and fulfilling temporary water requirements.

Planning ahead

There are numerous benefits that mobile water services can bring to industrial manufacturers facing the challenge of ageing plants. Companies are now recognising that temporary water services offer more value beyond that of an emergency service provider, and that it is also a viable longer-term solution to the ongoing issue of plant degradation. With over 160 years of experience and a comprehensive range of service offerings, Veolia is a trusted partner who can address the water and wastewater challenges that businesses face. The company’s Mobile Water Services can support businesses in their financial planning, business continuity, and plant maintenance needs.

To learn how Veolia can help optimise water treatment solutions for your operations, drop the company an email at or visit

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