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The metropolitan area of El Salvador's capital San Salvador gets around 42% of its potable water supply from the Río Lempa system. Said system, which draws its water from the eponymous river, supplies San Salvador, and the neighboring cities of Apopa, Ayutuxtepeque, Cuscatancingo, Mejicanos, and parts of the municipalities of Soyapango and Ilopango.
Serving 1.6mn residents, the water supplied by the system is treated at the Las Pavas potable water plant, which is located in the San Pablo Tacachico municipality of the country's La Libertad department.
With a production of 1.8m3/s, the plant is El Salvador's largest potable water supply source.
In operation since 1992, the plant currently produces 225,600m3/d of water - at nearly half of its capacity - due to outdated infrastructure.
The plans to modernize it and expand its treatment capacity to meet growing water demand in the greater San Salvador area were launched in 2012.
The initiative subsequently secured 53mn euros (US$62.2mn) in financing from the French government, plus another loan from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (Cabei) for US$64.4mn - an amount that was later reduced to US$16.9mn.
The funds from the French government will go towards mechanical and electro mechanical repairs to the plant's water intake infrastructure, while the bank's financing will cover overhaul expenses.
Although both loan agreements were signed in June of last year, the national assembly did not approve the French loan until December. This loan has a 30-year maturity and an annual interest rate of 0.115%.
The first funds from the French government loan (US$18mn) were incorporated into national water utility ANDA's budget in June following the approval of the national legislature, which allowed authorities to move forward with the launch of a tender.
To date, the Cabei loan is still pending legislative approval, with a deadline to be voted on October 31.
The initiative to upgrade the plant is the responsibility of its operator, ANDA. The state-owned company hired a consulting firm to carry out a comprehensive technical study of the plant and present a proposal to rehabilitate the facility.
Said proposal entails the rehabilitation of the plant and four pumping stations that help to draw water to the facility: the Bocatoma, EB1, EB2, and EB3. The project also includes carrying out the necessary infrastructure works to increase the plant's water production to 3m3/s.
Once the initiative is completed, water supply in San Salvador alone will increase by 100,000m3 a day. The project is expected to benefit some 2mn people, and help meet water demand of the capital's metropolitan area during the next 25 years.
In addition, the upgrade will also improve pipelines and significantly reduce energy costs at the facility.
The tender was launched on September 27 at a ceremony attended by vice president Oscar Ortiz, French government authorities, and ANDA officials.
"This is without doubt the largest investment made on the Las Pavas plant since its construction and start of operations," Ortiz said at the event.
The contract entails performing works to rehabilitate and enhance water pumping equipment, as well as others associated with the power supply, automatization processes, and energy efficiency. It also involves carrying out civil works on water treatment equipment and the electrical sub-stations located at the four aforementioned pumping stations.
Based on the loan conditions, the contract will be awarded to French companies. Eligible bids will only be those proposing that at least 70% of the project's related goods and services are provided by companies from France.
The deadline to submit clarification requests has been set for October 23, with visits to the site scheduled for October 9-11.
Technical and economic bids must be submitted at ANDA's headquarters on November 17, from 8-9:30am. The bid opening ceremony is expected to take place immediately afterwards.
SIDE PICTURE: A view of El Salvador's Las Pavas potable water treatment plant. CREDIT: Vicepresidencia de la República de El Salvador.