Biwater completes Virgin Islands desalination plant

Water technology company, Biwater, has started full commercial operation of a new 10,400 m³/day reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant constructed by the firm on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

Biwater will operate the plant for 16 years under a build, own, operate and transfer deal with the Virgin Islands government.

Biwater’s construction of the desalination plant and water storage facilities was funded using a $43 million loan from Barclays. The deal includes a water purchase agreement and Biwater has doubled the water storage capacity on Tortola to extend distribution to new areas of the island.

The improvements helps to meet Tortola’s water treatment capacity needs as well as addressing a government requirement to meet the growing demands of of the Virgin Islands’ tourist industry. The increased water production capacity will be used to supply cruise ships that dock in Tortola

The reverse osmosis plant uses a two pass system, running at 45% conversion efficiency. It incorporates four first pass trains and two second pass trains and is designed to run at 100% capacity. Pre-treatment consists of two-stage media filtration followed by five micron cartridge filtration, to protect the system from foulants.

For energy recovery, pressure exchangers with booster pumps to the reject line will enhance the high pressure feed supply to the first stage reverse osmosis trains.

Treated water mains total 3,330 metres, along steep terrain, with a total rise of 393 metres. They include two treated water pumping stations.

In 2015, Biwater is to complete construction of two of its compact wastewater treatment plants on the island.