By Mudassir Raja
Qatar has been taking fast strides in economic growth, health, sports, education and cultural areas. Despite all obstacles — the continuing unjust siege for example — a resilient Qatar has been able to achieve its short and long term goals.
At the same time, the country is not oblivious to its responsibilities related to environment and nature. The authorities have been showing great interest in keeping the environment clean and developing green areas at different sites.
Ashghal, Public Works Authority, has undertaken numerous projects related to protecting environment and enhancing wildlife in Qatar. One such project is ‘Al Karaana Lagoons: Reclamation, Rehabilitation & Wildlife Enhancement.’
Al Karaana Lagoon, located 60km southwest of Doha, has been used since 2006 to receive liquid industrial waste discharged by tankers. In 2016, the lagoon also started receiving treated sewage water from Al Karaana treatment station.
A French group, Suez, a leader in the field of soil treatment, was awarded the reclamation and rehabilitation contract for Al Karaana Lagoon in December 2017. The area of the project is estimated at 4.5km and includes removal works as well as excavation works on large areas.
Community recently got an opportunity to interview Pascal Vidil, project director, about the project and his experiences at length.
Introducing himself, Pascal said: “I came to Qatar in 2017 as the project director with SUEZ, one of the world’s leading environmental services companies. I am 51 and live with my wife in Qatar. We have three children. I am an engineer in mechanics, having graduated from France. I have worked for 16 years in oil and gas sector.
“I joined SUEZ in 2009 and started working on water treatment projects. I worked with a desalination plant project in Bahrain in 2010. Then, I moved back to France. I did few other works like procurement. I again moved to the project management and did projects in France and Poland. In Poland, we had a big incinerator to take care of. SUEZ has been working on different projects related to water treatment in different countries. It also has different projects in the Gulf countries. In Qatar, we have been carrying out projects in Lusail, Doha west, Barwa city and in Al Karaana Lagoons.
The project of Al Karaana Lagoons is being carried out by our company for Ashghal. In the Middle East, Ashghal is our best client. We have quite good relations with them. We want to work with Ashghal in future as well.
Speaking about the ongoing project and its environmental values, the project director said that a consultant firm did the environmental impact assessment of the site for Ashghal. The Qatari government wanted to make the site a better place for wildlife. After the environmental assessment, they launched the tender in 2016.
“We won this tender in 2017. The project is a huge place. Actually, it is the area of around 500 hectares. It was an old quarry from where they might have been taking material for construction. Since 2006, they have been using this place as a disposal area where they have been dumping waste. They have built sand boundaries to make sure that the waste is restricted in a specific area. The authorities have been dumping waste water here coming from [different] industries or municipal waste. The waste water has mainly been coming from car wash stations. Also, there are hydrocarbons and you can see oil floating in the area. There have been heavy metals and different kinds of pollutants. The site is right in the middle of the desert. They have been dumping the waste for 10 years and there were lots of sediments accumulated there. The water has been evaporating regularly leaving behinds the polluting particles. There is a lot of evaporation in Qatar — between two to three metres of evaporation per year. That is why, they have used this area in the middle of the desert to evaporate and get rid of the water. This has been working quite well. All on the site is accumulation of pollutants with different levels of pollution. Some particles have been burning under the sun and have been depolluted naturally, I would say. The thickness of the polluted particles varies. Sometimes, there is more than two metres of sediments and sometime it is matter of just centimetres,” he said.
The French engineer further said: “As the part of the work to be done by the contractor SUEZ, we have to first build specific lagoons to continue to receive the trucks with waste water. We are still receiving like, let’s say, 100,000 cubic metre water per month and 200 trucks a day. We have created a lagoon like a big swimming pool with a liner that is an HDP liner. Now, it is completely water-tight. No water goes in the ground. This pool is something like one kilometre by 200 metre area. The bed liner [plastic] is three millimetre thick. Again, this will be temporary as Ashghal will also build a plant to treat the water. This lagoon will also be dismantled in near future.
“We also have transferred some water from existing lagoons to the new temporary pool. We have started to collect the sediments with the excavators and started transferring them to a landfill site that is also covered with a bed liner. After transferring all the sediments, we will compact it and cover it to be completely captivated. We dump the highly polluted sediments and low polluted sediments in different areas in the landfill site.”
The project director said that they had completed about 75 percent of the project. “We have depolluted about 65 percent of the whole area. We have to complete the project by June 2020. We continue to dry different patches where there is still some polluted water. Then, we will create 73 hectares of lagoons with clean water with nice shape. There will also be a liner at the bed of the pound. The water [treated sewage water] will come from a water treatment plant. The water is clean for irrigation. We will put some trees and reeds. We will create some small islands. The plantation will sustain in the water during even the hotter days. Already, there are different kinds of plants and birds in the area.”
Sharing his experience of working on the project, Pascal said: “We have 400 people on the site with two civil works sub-contractors. It is an exciting project because it is very huge. I find an opportunity to apply my project management skills. The project’s cost is QR450 million.
“It is nice to see the government has started to develop more and more green areas in Qatar. There are many green areas and water pounds for the wildlife. I am happy to be the part of the efforts of Qatar to make the country more beautiful. I am really encouraged by the authorities to develop the lagoons for the wildlife.”
The engineer also sees Qatar as a very friendly country for expatriates. I find a lot of interesting and friendly people in Qatar. “There are about 5,000 French expatriates here. I like to do water sports in the sea. I am excited to see the fast development of the country as a whole.”
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