Govt prepares tender to build US$1.1bn water treatment plant

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Colombian authorities have started preparing the bidding rules for a tender to build the US$1.1bn Canoas wastewater treatment plant in capital Bogotá, an official from the country's water department, part of the environment and housing ministry, told BNamericas.

After years of discussions, authorities finally signed an agreement guaranteeing the financing necessary to build the plant.

The facility will allow for the cleanup of the Bogotá river, said environment, housing and land development minister Carlos Costa Posada.

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National, departmental and local governments, as well as Bogotá's water and sewerage utility EAAB, among other entities, committed to providing resources totaling 750bn pesos (US$363mn) for the first phase of the plant, which will provide primary treatment to up to 14m3/s.

According to the agreement, the plant will then be equipped to carry out secondary treatment on up to 14m3/s.

While construction works are expected to start as soon as possible, the real benefits of the plant on the river's waters will become evident between 2021 and 2025, the official said.

The plant's design and construction will be managed as part of the ministry's sanitation and wastewater management plan, and contamination reduction goals will be reviewed every five years.

The Cundinamarca department regional environmental agency (CAR) will also take part in the financing of the project.

The World Bank said in April it was evaluating a US$250mn loan request from CAR to support the Bogotá river sanitation plan.

CAR would contribute with a US$196mn counterpart for the river's cleanup project, expected to be carried out in four stages, including upgrading and expanding existing treatment plants, improving flood control, and carrying out studies to promote integrated urban water planning and project management.

Despite decades of debate and planning, the Bogotá river remains highly contaminated and is an environmental and public health liability.