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SABESP and Foz do Brasil, the environmental engineering company of the Odebrecht Organization, recently presented the Aquapolo Project - the largest port development in the Southern Hemisphere and the fifth largest in the world, dedicated to the production of reuse water for industrial purposes that uses treated sewage as raw material. With the capacity to produce 1,000 liters per second (l/s) of reuse water, Aquapolo will supply the ABC Paulista Petrochemical Center, supplying this resource to municipalities and companies located near the 17 km of its water main.

The project will allow the State Government to increase the offer of treated water to the São Paulo Metropolitan Region. The volume of first-use water that will no longer be consumed by the industries is enough to continuously supply a population of 350,000 inhabitants, with the capacity to reach 600,000 if extended to other clients. The development and implementation of the project were leveraged by a major client, Braskem, through its subsidiary Quattor, which will consume 65% of the Aquapolo production.

Aquapolo involves investments of approximately R$ 252 million through a contract that extends until 2043 (34 years). The construction work, currently undertaken by Construtora Norberto Odebrecht, began in April of this year and the supply of reuse water is set to begin 21 months after the concession of all licenses. It is estimated that 800 jobs will be generated during the implementation phase.

The project involves the construction of a Tertiary Treatment Plant on a 15,000-m² area inside the SABESP ABC Sewage Treatment Plant, located on the border between the municipalities of São Paulo and São Caetano do Sul. To carry the generated reuse water to the Petrochemical Center, a steel water main extending 17 km will be built. It will traverse the municipalities of São Caetano do Sul and Santo André until reaching the center in Mauá.

“The reuse water needs to be better explored in the country, since it is a fundamental product for preserving water resources,” said SABESP CEO, Gesner Oliveira. “Recycling and reusing the sewage from our treatment plants allows us to meet the growing industry demand for water, and at the same time, supply the population with drinking water, without needing to increase the use of the scarce water resources we have available,” he said.

“In addition to companies from the private sector, we hold partnerships with city governments from the São Paulo Metropolitan Region for watering city gardens and cleaning the streets after the outdoor produce fairs. With Aquapolo, SABESP is fulfilling its objective – which is to be a company that offers environmental solutions," said Oliveira.

“The characteristics of Aquapolo, which make it the largest project of its kind in the entire Southern Hemisphere, involve technology never before adopted on a large scale in the country,” said Fernando Santos-Reis, CEO of Foz do Brasil.

The reuse water is produced from the sewage treated by the ABC Sewage Treatment Plant. This treated effluent, which would normally be returned to nature, first passes through ultra-filtration membranes, then through reverse osmosis membranes that use pressure to extract the high conductivity and solid matter, ammonia and other elements that make the effluent unsuitable for industrial use.

To get an idea of the specific characteristics that have earned Aquapolo such distinction, in the entire Southern Hemisphere, only Australia has a similar project. However, it produces 500 l/s of water for reuse from the treated sewage – less than half the Aquapolo production capacity.

In Brazil, this difference becomes even greater. Similar plants existing in the country generate between 50 and 60 l/s. The reuse water production at Aquapolo will not be entirely absorbed by the Petrochemical Center and can be sold to other industries and municipalities from the region through bypasses that can be made along the 17 km of its water main.

“Participating in this project goes along with Braskem and Quattor’s objective of minimizing the environmental impacts resulting from its activities and improving the ecoefficiency of its processes, in line with the commitment of our companies and the partners involved in the project in terms of promoting sustainable development,” said Luiz de Mendonça, CEO of Quattor. “That is why we decided to accelerate the project,” said Mendonça.

Social-Economic and Environmental Gains

For more than 10 years, the area surrounding the ABC Petrochemical Center has been suffering from the growing scarcity of water resources in the region, with the progressive growth of the population and industrial occupation. In order to meet its water demand of 650 liters per second, the Petrochemical Center collects part of this volume (500 l/s) from the Tamanduateí River, treating it at its own treatment plant. Another 150 l/s are provided by the public supply network through the SABESP Taiaçupeba and Casa Grande Water Treatment Plants.

In addition to providing higher quality water than the effluent treated in the Tamanduateí River, Aquapolo eliminates the need for the Petrochemical Center to collect this resources from its current sources, meaning monthly savings of 1,684,000,000 billion liters of water per month – corresponding to more than 670 Olympic-sized pools.

The Metropolitan Region of São Paulo is one of Brazil’s neediest when it comes to water availability, with rates similar to those of the country’s dry Northeastern region, 201 m³ per inhabitant per year – much lower than that recommended by the UN, of approximately 2,500 m³. Therefore, in addition to the environmental gain, Aquapolo will allow the State Government, through SABESP, to increase the offer of treated water to the population of the Greater São Paulo area.

About SABESP

SABESP is a mixed capital company that has the São Paulo City Government as its main shareholder. In 2002, it became the first mixed capital company to join the BOVESPA New Market list. At the same time, it began to have its shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

In the State of São Paulo, its operations cover 366 of the 645 municipalities, serving 26.7 million inhabitants – nearly twice the population of Belgium. Currently, 125 cities already have universal water supply, collection and sewage treatment services, or in other words, 100% in all categories.

From 2007 to 2009, SABESP invested nearly R$ 4.5 billion in water and sewage projects. Until 2013, the company plans to make annual investments of R$ 1.7 billion, with R$1.8 billion planned for this year. The company is responsible for 26% of all the country’s sanitation-related investments.

SABESP has developed a consistent plan to expand into national and international markets. In addition to basic sanitation services, the company is licensed to operate in the drainage, urban cleaning services, solid waste management and energy markets. It has already established six inter-state agreements. On an international level, the company has signed cooperation agreements with AYA, from Costa Rica, the Spanish company Agbar, and Mekorot, from Israel. In Panama, it recently won its first international bid, where it provided consulting services for a program focused on rational water use and the installation of a new management model for a local company.

In line with its mission to become an environmental solutions company, SABESP has established increasing the offer of water as one of its main pillars for increasing available water resources in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region.

Based on this guideline, Aquapolo will help save drinking water for human supply, releasing a high quality product at a competitive price for industrial use, whether for the Capuava Center or consumers near the water main.
The company also expanded its platform of environmental solutions. In addition to reuse water, it has contracts to meet the firm demand from major clients, and the technology for rational water use and the suitable destination of sewage all contribute toward environmental preservation.

About Foz do Brasil

Foz do Brasil, the environmental engineering company of the Odebrecht Organization, works in the segments of water and sewage, waste and industrial effluent treatment and urban solid waste treatment. To consolidate its position as one of the largest companies in the sector, the company plans to invest R$ 3.6 billion from 2009-2013.

In September 2009, the Unemployment Guarantee Investment Fund (FI FGTS) acquired 26.53% stake in the company's capital.

Foz do Brasil serves over 3.5 million Brazilians in 16 municipalities, investing and providing water and sewage services in municipal concessions and in partnerships with state sanitation companies. In the industrial sector, it operates through its subsidiaries Lumina and Cetrel-Lumina, to serve industries from the oil, mining, steelmaking and petrochemical sectors, with companies such as Petrobras, Braskem, Transpetro, Dow, DuPont, Quattor, Rhodia, BattreBahia, Shell and VSB as its main clients.

With a contract portfolio with an average term of 24 years, Foz do Brasil estimates earnings of R$ 780 million in 2010, and currently generates over 1,400 direct jobs.