Vivapolis - Homepage

SAFEGE - The Niroth Project: Expansion of the Water Treatment and Distribution Capacity of the City of Phnom Penh

SAFEGE - The Niroth Project: Expansion of the Water Treatment and Distribution Capacity of the City of Phnom Penh


Country: Cambodia

City: Phnom Penh

Beneficiary: SAFEGE

Client: Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority

In-country partners: N/A

French partners: N/A

Project status: Ongoing

Financing: Agence Française de Développement, Japan International Cooperation Agency

The project in brief:

Amid spiralling population growth and rapid urbanisation, water demand in the city of Phnom Penh has exploded: having increased three-fold since 2000 it is now set to double over the next 10 years. And with the Mekong River flanking the city on its eastern side, urbanisation is constrained to the west, away from available supply sources.


The solution:

To meet the two-fold challenge of growth in demand and the need to provide a quality service for end users living increasingly far away from treatment facilities, the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) launched the Niroth 1 project, entailing the construction of the first phase of a 130,000 m3/day water treatment plant and the installation of 8km of pipelines traversing the city. The construction of a second phase of the same capacity as well as improvements to the transmission system will begin in 2014 with the start of the Niroth 2 project.

The treatment plant is sourced from the Mekong via a 30m-deep purpose-built well on the river banks. The plant is situated 2km away from the intake structure and employs a conventional water treatment process. The facilities are sized to meet quality and quantity requirements, such are the environmental and social implications of the project.  Plant and pumping station operation is fully automated and designed to produce water of a very high quality, commensurate with the ambitious targets set by PPWSA.

SAFEGE carried out the feasibility study and preliminary design for the treatment plant and pipeline, and then prepared the financial package for the project with the Client and the donor agencies. The tendering process having been completed, SAFEGE is now supervising the construction of the new facilities.

Key project features and highlights:

In a market where competition is essentially price-based to the detriment of quality and performance, SAFEGE has succeeded in selling the benefits of the French "total cost" model, whereby the cost is calculated over the whole lifecycle and factors in the energy savings that can be achieved. The challenge was to secure acceptance of a higher capital outlay cost in the interests of the environmental and social performance of the project.

To that end, SAFEGE has developed a bid evaluation method that adjusts price proposals based on the quality of the tenderer and of the facilities proposed, and in particular their power consumption. The successful tenderer is therefore never the lowest bidder, but the bidder whose proposal is the least costly over the whole lifecycle of the facilities. This is particularly important in a country where, as a result of a high-carbon energy mix and grossly inadequate production capacity, electricity prices are among the most expensive in the world. The aim was to make clean water available to all without raising tariffs, and to ensure an efficient service for city-edge areas over the long term.

The installation of a fully automated control system has improved the quality of the treatment process, but also optimised energy consumption given that the pumps and motors are the most power-hungry components of the system. The plant is equipped with variable-speed pumps controlled by an innovative algorithm which considerably enhances energy performances.

Particular importance was attached to good workmanship in the construction process as it was important to maximize the lifespan of the facilities. The concrete structures and piping supplied by Pont-à-Mousson are the product of the most advanced know-how. With the intended outcome being a robust and sustainable project, SAFEGE has worked with PPWSA to build a plant that is mindful of the environment and that is capable of meeting both the current and future needs of the communities served.

Special features of the French offering:

SAFEGE has been working with PPWSA for over 22 years now. It has always stood out from the crowd by opting for high-quality services that take due account of the financial, technical, environmental and social parameters. Its approach is to sensitize the client to the benefits of long-term performance achieved by the use of innovative technologies. On this market, when it comes to managing large-scale urban development and infrastructure projects, our company has stood for quality and performance "à la française" for over two decades now.

Find out more



In 2013, Project Manager Julien Dupont’s contribution to the project was rewarded with EFCA’s European Prize for Young Professionals in Engineering and in 2010, PPWSA won the Stockholm Industry Water Award.