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  • Project type
    Project type Water & wastewater
  • Area served
    Area served Urban; semi-urban; agricultural
  • Population served
    Population served 2,700,000
  • Status
    Status Ongoing

This project will help address urgent water supply needs driven by the ever expanding population of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Providing increased drinking water capacity will help to alleviate water shortages across the region, while wastewater treatment works will improve sanitation.

The construction of a large-scale water treatment plant in Erbil will alleviate the region’s reliance on ground water supplies, which are currently drawn from over 1,000 boreholes and existing water treatment plants situation along the Great Zab River. The reduction in borehole usage will allow for the recovery of the water table and provide for agricultural areas, which require year-round reliable water supplies to grow produce.

The project will be constructed to British Standards, and will incorporate Biwater as the operator of facilities following construction. This will ensure that the quality of treated water for 1.5 million people in Erbil and treated water and wastewater for 1.2 million people in Sulaimani adheres to World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

Erbil Water Works:

Works will include a new 600 MLD water treatment plant for Erbil, with water storage reservoirs throughout the network providing water storage around the city for a 12 hour supply to overcome any shortages or network disruptions. Treated water will be supplied via dual transmission mains, booster pump stations and two ring mains, allowing for city-wide distribution.

Sulaimani Water and Wastewater Works:

Works will include the refurbishment of an existing water treatment plant (Dukan 1), near the Dukan Dam located 74km from the city. Within the city itself, works will include the completion of the existing sewerage collector network, and subsequent connection via pumping stations to a new wastewater treatment facility, which will include sludge treatment. The resultant sludge product will be used as an agricultural fertiliser.

Landmark loan agreement:

In December 2016, UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency, agreed a USD $34.8m loan to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to finance a contract with Biwater for the development phase of the Erbil and Sulaimani Water and Wastewater Project. The loan was the first use by the KRG of the ‘Law number (7) of 2015 To Raise Funds Through Borrowing’ by The Kurdistan Region,

In February 2017, the deal was highly commended in the 'Trade & Forfaiting Review (TFR) Deals of 2016' and published in the TFR February 2017 special deals magazine edition; deals were commended for a range of achievements, “From the brave, to the complex, to the persistent and the innovative”.

In May 2017, the deal went on to win the Global Trade Review (GTR) Best Deals 2016’. GTR Editorial Director, Shannon Manders, gave a special mention to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq for its debut on the awards roster.

Completed works:

Biwater has completed the development phase of the Erbil and Sulaimani Water and Wastewater Project. Biwater’s engineers worked closely with the client’s engineers to refine and detail technical designs to provide a holistic solution to meet the region’s water and wastewater needs in Erbil and Sulaimani.

Environmental and social impact assessments were carried out to provide a clear indication of seasonal variations in water characteristics, water demands, ground stability and the suitability for treatment works and pipeline routes, to name just a few benefits of the data and assessments carried out.

Current stage of works:

Biwater is delivering an emergency works package to alleviate drinking water scarcity in the region. The emergency works will include significant water network additions and the first pipes for installation have been delivered to Erbil (see photos in the works image gallery below). 

This project will address urgent water and sanitation needs across the region. Our team are committed to achieving the project scope and delivering state-of-the-art treatment facilities with provisions for water storage as well as significant collector network and distribution network improvements.

Jay Brown, Regional Director, Middle East


Local area:

Technical summary:

Water treatment capacity:

  • 600,000 m3/day
  • 600 MLD
  • 158.5 MGD US

Wastewater treatment capacity:

  • 400,000 m3/day
  • 400 MLD
  • 105.7 MGD US

Erbil Water Works:

  • The water treatment plant in Erbil will use the Greater Zab River as its sustainable raw water source. This river originates in the mountains of south-eastern Turkey, and flows south for 426km before joining the Tigris River south of the city of Mosul
  • The Biwater treatment plant is being designed to minimise operational costs utilising high efficiency equipment, chemicals and treatment processes
  • All by-products from the treatment process are physically removed and not allowed to discharge back into the river, maintaining environmental conditions
  • The plant will be capable of delivering 600 MLD of potable water to Erbil City. Biwater will construct a twin distribution ring main and associated storage reservoirs and pump stations that will provide up to 12 hours of water storage for the residents of Erbil, ensuring that all consumers connected to this distribution system will get reliable high quality potable water and will no longer need to rely on intermittent supplies from boreholes with the risk of contamination
  • Over 288km of pipeline will be installed to increase the water distribution network in the city
  • Storage reservoirs will provide a total of 320,000m3 of water storage capacity

Sulaimani Water and Wastewater Works:

  • As a priority to improve the water supply to Sulaimani and alleviate water stress, Biwater will implement vital upgrades to equipment and chemical dosing facilities at the existing Dukan 1 Water Treatment Plant. Biwater will optimise the water treatment process at the plant and enable it to operate at maximum capacity
  • The City of Sulaimani has one of the oldest sewage collector networks in Kurdistan. At present, untreated raw sewage is discharged directly into the water course, polluting water supplies downstream. The new wastewater treatment plant will treat wastewater generated from city to ensure that the effluent discharge meets required standards
  • The works will drastically improve the quality of water downstream, as well as the water available in the water course used by the extensive farming community that is located along the banks of the river