An expert in the reuse of treated wastewater for more than 20 years, Veolia works every day to preserve water resources. By implementing this solution, the Group is demonstrating its ability to preserve the natural environment while guaranteeing access to water for all.
Why reuse treated wastewater?
Faced with unprecedented water stress, many countries are experiencing water shortages that are having economic and health consequences, as well as having a lasting impact on the local environment. Conflicts of use, desertification of local populations, such problems linked to the lack of water which constitutes a real challenge for the future. Treated wastewater is an available and abundant resource. Once it has been purified, it can be used for a variety of purposes, including agriculture, groundwater recharge or industrial applications. It can even be transformed into drinking water. This is already the case in Namibia, in Windhoek, where Veolia produces drinking water from the city's treated wastewater for 400,000 inhabitants.
The REUSE technology in the Vendée region in France, an emblematic example
the Vendée region, located in the southern part of France, 9 out of 10 litres of drinking water are produced from surface water that is particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change. To make up for this water shortage and secure the local drinking water supply, wastewater reuse is one possible solution. Proven and reliable, treated wastewater reuse technology has been deployed in Europe and worldwide for more than 20 years. It offers great potential for France, where the rate of wastewater reuse is currently below 1%.
Issue at stake
Ensure and maintain access to water in the face of climate change.
Find solutions adapted to local contexts, communities and cultures, which vary according to geographical areas.
Continue to develop solutions that have already proven their effectiveness and duplicate them.
A cross interview between Jacky Dallet and Yannick Moreau
Read the interview with Jacky Dallet and Yannick Moreau in Planet, Veolia's magazine dedicated to ecological transformation.
Jacky Dallet is the president of Vendée Eau, the public water supplier in France’s Vendée department, which initiated and now pilots the Jourdain project. Unique in France, the project concerns the reuse of treated wastewater. Yannick Moreau is the mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne, the town that houses the refining unit and supplies it with wastewater.
What does the Jourdain project involve?
Jacky Dallet: We’re going to do something here that no other region in France or in Europe has dared to do. The aim of the refining plant that Veolia is building is to produce very high-quality water from wastewater. So when it leaves our treatment plant, rather than being discharged into the sea, the water will be fed back into the natural environment or into a drinking water reservoir before flowing back into the distribution network. In other words, a shorter water cycle. Beyond the guaranteed volume of water, our goal, working with our partners (the Loire-Bretagne water agency; the Vendée department; the Pays de la Loire region; the European Regional Development Fund; French actors FNADT, DDTM, and ARS; the metropolitan area of Les Sables d’Olonne; and others), is to demonstrate the effectiveness of this kind of process by producing water of perfect sanitary quality. Other towns in France are interested in implementing similar projects in their area.
What are the consequences of global warming in your town?
Yannick Moreau: As for all seaside towns, the main consequence is the rise in sea levels, which increases the risk of coastal flooding. However, in Les Sables d’Olonne, it’s not so much global warming that’s impacting our water resources. It’s more the absence of a groundwater table that’s causing growing water stress. The Vendée is one of the most sensitive departments to periods of drought, as it is 90% dependent on surface water accumulated in reservoirs, which in turn are highly sensitive to global warming. Between population growth and tourism, we need to find alternatives. Last summer, for example, we were able to benefit from water from the Mervent forest, over 80 km away from us. The problem is that in 10 or 20 years, we risk reaching a breaking point. This is why the Jourdain project is so important for Les Sables d’Olonne to prevent this from happening.
320 million cubic meters
of water saved by Veolia in 2022 (compared to 2019) thanks to improved network efficiency
989 million cubic meters of recycled water
produced by Veolia in 2022
4 pillars crucial
to the success of wastewater recycling projects: technology, acceptance by local people, the regulatory aspect, and the financial aspect.
The reuse of wastewater, a Veolia expertise
Veolia has been developing its expertise in wastewater reuse for over 20 years. The Group has supported the pioneering project to reuse treated wastewater in the Vendée region thanks to its know-how and technical guarantees in terms of both the environment and health. Veolia has complete mastery of wastewater reuse technology across the entire value chain. This unique expertise enables the Group to respond concretely to its clients' regulatory and technical challenges.
In Windhoek, Namibia, Veolia has been operating for over 20 years the very first plant in the world to use the treated wastewater reuse solution. Thanks to this technology, 400,000 inhabitants are supplied with drinking water every day from recycled wastewater, while at the same time tackling the local problem of water stress. This is also the case in West Basin, California (United States), where Veolia produces five qualities of water from the region's wastewater, thus avoiding the withdrawal of more than 1 billion m3 of water from the local water table. Lastly, in France, the Group has launched a vast REUSE programme, with the aim of saving more than 3 million m3 of water each year by installing compact water recycling units at all the WWTPs where this is possible.