An extension and upgrade of the Maéra wastewater treatment plant in Lattes in southern France’s Montpellier region, will allow it to be the world’s first plant to produce twice as much energy as it consumes, according to Veolia Water Technologies.
The nearly $230-million upgrade is expected to allow the plant’s production of renewable energies such as biomethane, heat and electricity to cover 205% of its energy consumption by 2031. The excess energy will supply gas to 9,000 homes and heat to more than 7,500 households in the region.
Work over the nine-year contract with OTV and Veolia Eau France will gradually increase the wastewater treatment plant’s capacity to cover the needs of 19 municipalities, or nearly 700,00 residents. Capacity will increase to treat 210,000 m3 per day.
“The extension of the treatment capacity combined with the proposed improvements will allow us to face the future more serenely and to offer a structure that is better integrated with an overall strategy for limiting noise and odours,” announced René Revol, president of the Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole Water Authority.
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The plant’s compact design also frees up 2,500 m2 of space to implement large-scale wastewater reuse systems. This renders a possible recovery of 70,000 m3 per day.
The plant’s control area will have an information system that will make it possible to manage systems in real time on a daily basis, monitor the plant’s performance, and address heavy rainfall to minimize spills.
The wastewater plant upgrades are also part of an agroecological approach to initiate the use of treated wastewater in agriculture, Veolia officials explained. A rooftop vegetable garden and greenhouses on the ground will be created and watered by treated water from the station. The water will also be tested for fire control, street cleaning, and green space watering with agroecological pilot partner DV2E.
“Lowering carbon footprint, reducing constraints on natural resources and protecting biodiversity have been the non-negotiable principles that have shaped our thinking,” announced Arnaud Valleteau De Moulliac, managing director of OTV, in a statement. “We are proud to bring our expertise to the service of the Metropolis of Montpellier to transform its wastewater into valuable contributions for the city and its citizens, and for the environment,” he added.
OTV will lead a consortium made up of Veolia Eau, Razel Bec, GTM TP GC SO, Egis Eau, Cabinet Merlin, Bouygues Energies and Services, Tourre Sanchis Architectes, and AI Project.
The WWTP upgrade also supports the Territorial Climate-Air-Energy Plan of the Montpellier Metropolis.