The new desalination plant in Umm Al Quwain is one of the most important projects that will achieve water security in the UAE and the objectives of its national strategy. The water produced and distributed by the plant complies with the safe water standards issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The plant relies on reverse osmosis technology, which is a water purification process that uses a partially permeable membrane to separate ions, unwanted molecules and larger particles from drinking water. In reverse osmosis, an applied pressure is used to overcome osmotic pressure, a colligative property that is driven by chemical potential differences of the solvent, a thermodynamic parameter. Reverse osmosis can remove many types of dissolved and suspended chemical species as well as biological ones (principally bacteria) from water, and is used in both industrial processes and the production of potable water. The result is that the solute is retained on the pressurized side of the membrane and the pure solvent is allowed to pass to the other side. This membrane should not allow large molecules or ions through the pores (holes), but should allow smaller components of the solution (such as solvent molecules, e.g., water, H2O) to pass freely.
The total number of tanks connected to the plant is 14 tanks, 5 of which have a capacity of 30 million gallons and 9 with a capacity of 20 million gallons, in addition to a number of other tanks to serve various areas with different capacities, with a total storage capacity of about 500 million gallons.
The tanks are constructed and installed in accordance with the safety procedures approved by the EtihadWE, which are in line with the latest international safety requirements, as the number of personnel working on the construction and installation of one tank reaches approximately 300 workers, and the construction period does not exceed one month for large volumes of tanks.
EtihadWE tanks are designed for a lifespan of up to 60 years and are of types that require low maintenance and are spaced out during the operating period. They are environmentally friendly tanks that are compatible with the best international specifications and standards.
As for cleaning and sterilizing water tanks, it is carried out periodically without affecting the quantity of production or water quality, as the tank to be sterilized is temporarily taken out of service until the process of sterilization is completed before it is returned to service after analyzing a sample and verifying its results.
EtihadWE has worked in recent years to restructure its work plans in order to align with the water security strategy of the UAE, which aims to ensure water sustainability during various circumstances. The aforementioned plans include procedures for dealing with various challenges that the production process may face, such as the phenomenon of red tide within the business continuity plans prepared in cooperation with the National Emergency Crises & Disasters Management Authority and other concerned parties, in addition to relying on the latest technologies internally to deal with various phenomena, such as modifying chemical injection systems and primary treatment in the operation of desalination plants.
The first phase of the new desalination plant in Umm Al Quwain was recently inaugurated, through which it will produce 50 million gallons per day, while the total production capacity of the plant will reach 150 million gallons per day after the completion of all phases, which is scheduled to be during the third quarter of the current year 2022.