In Ostend, the water provider Farys has completed construction of a water purification installation that can turn dirty canal water into clean, potable water for human consumption.
The development, it is predicted, will save consumers in Ostend and along the coast on their water bills. At present, the drinking water used at the coast comes via a pipeline from Dinant in the Ardennes, 200km away. The associated transport costs figure into the water bills for domestic as well as business users.
Farys, the inter-communal water authority in Ostend, has now completed construction of a purification installation that will take the water from the Bruges-Ostend canal and make it fit for human consumption. The canal water is classed as “brackish” – not as salt as sea-water, but still too salt to drink.
“First we turn it into dead water, which you could compare to the distilled water you use in your iron,” explained Farys president Christophe Peeters. “After that it is mineralised into drink water.”
The water industry has long been able to desalinate water, but the process is rarely used for the production of drinking water. “This process is unique in Western Europe,” Peeters said. As well as reducing costs, he said, it will also help tackle the problem of low groundwater levels existing in many parts of Belgium at present. “We will be confronted with that problem more and more before of climate change,” he said.
The finishing touches are now being put to the installation, which will start producing clean drinking water for the residents of the coast in a matter of months, Farys promised.