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Sweco collaborates on largest circular water project in Flanders

Sweco has been appointed to design the pipe distribution network for the cooling water plant of the Waterkracht project. Together with project partners Aquafin, water-link, Ekopak and the infra-fund managed by PMV, we are helping in the impactful project to upgrade treated wastewater into cooling water for companies in the port of Antwerp. This collaboration is an important milestone in the transition to a sustainable port.

On behalf of the joint venture ‘Levering’, Sweco is designing the new pipe distribution network in the port of Antwerp. Sweco is responsible for the full design and supervision of the network and associated pumping stations. Our contribution includes the feasibility study, the drafting of the preliminary design, the EIA study, the permit process, the tender and the supervision of the implementation.

To put this complex engineering puzzle in place, we bring in soil, water and infrastructure experts from our various divisions, so that we can join forces to turn on the tap for more circular water. This large-scale investment will therefore make the difference in our national climate ambitions.

Sara Vander Beken, Operational Manager Energy Transition, division Energy & Environment: “This project fits nicely into the strategic multidisciplinary story Sweco has set out. As a sustainable engineering partner, we are at home with the many large-scale developments in Antwerp. That region is in full transition more than ever. Both in terms of energy, water and infrastructure, we fortunately have the necessary mileage on the counter. Just think of our important contribution to the expansion of heat networks, sewerage projects and the Oosterweel connection.”

Steven Raes, Sustainability Manager, division Industry: “The centralised approach allows us to realise a much greater impact here for the optimisation of the overall water management in the wider Antwerp region. This also creates opportunities for the rest of Flanders, where often stand-alone initiatives still have the upper hand. After all, cooperation or co-participation between businesses, public companies and the environment is the key to success. Once again, it also shows that our industry is an important driver of climate-related innovations.”

Pascal De Paep, Operational Manager North, division Infrastructure: “Our strength lies in managing multidisciplinary projects where different knowledge domains such as infrastructure, architecture and technical installations come together. For this innovative project, we can boast our very extensive experience with sewerage and RWZI dossiers and civil constructions. Besides the technical aspect, we are highly skilled in stakeholder management. This allows us to respond perfectly to certain needs and concerns.”

Ready for the climate challenge
Our region is one of the places in Europe that is very sensitive to drought and scarcity. Groundwater reserves are under pressure. With Hydropower, we preserve precious drinking water for the inhabitants of Antwerp, while companies in the port will use treated wastewater for cooling water applications. Circular water use is therefore one of the spearheads of the Blue Deal, which aims to better arm Flanders against more extreme weather conditions so that the supply of drinking water can continue to be guaranteed.

Sustainable opening-up of the port
In this way, water-link significantly increases its capacity for supplying process water to the port and confirms its role as a reliable partner for industry. The aim is to replace half of Antwerp’s industrial water with treated sewage in five years’ time. This project will ensure that industrial customers on both left and right banks can use the circular cooling water. In this way, it offers added value for the entire port community.

Benefits for businesses and residents
Hydropower aims to reduce the pressure on natural freshwater sources and make greater use of circular water. Companies and residents of Antwerp will thus have greater security of supply, even in times of drought. The water supply remains constant and consistent, despite the effects of climate change. Thanks to innovative water treatment techniques, the water is also of high quality. Connected companies have to intervene less with additives and therefore consume less energy.

The new progressive cooling water plant will upgrade 20 billion liters of treated wastewater to cooling water every year from 2025. That is as much as the water consumption of more than 600,000 inhabitants. The plant will be on a plot in the NextGen district, the former Opel site being converted into a circular hub in the port of Antwerp.