Working on waste water reuse for Ulaanbaatar

An agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Green Development, signed in 2013, paved the way for 2030WRG to conduct a Hydro-Economic Analysis (HEA) to examine the water demand and supply in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Alarmingly, there is a projected water demand-supply gap by the year 2030 due to which, all the stakeholders have shown a sense of urgency to work together on this issue.

As per the analysis, with 43% of the total water demand (92 mn m3/yr) in Ulaanbaatar is estimated to not be met with given supplies in the high demand scenario. The Analysis brought about tremendous learnings regarding the situation, as it helped identify cost-effective water demand reduction solutions and water supply alternatives. The water supply and wastewater infrastructure is in need of a major overhaul in order to meet the current demand and protect the environment.

In the current scenario, Wastewater reuse has been shown to be less expensive than primary supply augmentation, particularly where wastewater network systems and treatment plants are planned and designed for reuse in this region. Wastewater reuse was included as a measure in the Ulaanbaatar City Master Plan 2030.

Various stakeholders such as Ulaanbaatar Development Corporation (UBDC), National Secretariat of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Invest Mongolia Agency are currently exploring projects and programs for wastewater reuse in the city, and are considering Public Private Partnership (PPP) amongst other options. With the planned upgradation and capacity augmentation of the Centralized Wastewater Treatment Plant (CWWTP) in Ulaanbaatar with tertiary-level water treatment, there is significant potential for re-using treated wastewater.

As per our country representative, Dorjsuren Dechinlkhundev, “Working on waste water reuse for Ulaanbaatar is critical as the demand of water is drastically expanding. Every day, the effluence of treated but polluted waste water from old and outdated waste water treatment facilities into the Tuul is polluting the river and threatening the environment (downstream). Reusing waste water is essential to the development of industry clusters in the region and surroundings.”

A concept note on 2030 WRG working to achieve substantially more municipal wastewater reuse in Ulaanbaatar, particularly by industry, through the development of a comprehensive policy framework, developing capacity, and facilitating the setting up of processes and mechanisms to implement relevant wastewater reuse projects has been developed and accepted by the Steering board of the 2030WRG on 6 October 2016.

The Policy Document aims to synthesize global best practices, applicable to Ulaanbaatar. The focus is to develop a targeted policy that provides incentives for wastewater use. Many industrial operations are able to access water from other alternatives and cost considerations relate to the tariff for water supply. Therefore, whereas the policy enforcement as well as a higher cost per unit of water within the city could be a deterrent, a realistic solution could consider some form of incentive mechanism as well. The policy aims to bring together wastewater producers (STPs) and off-takers of treated wastewater like the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Construction and Urban Development, UB City Govenor’s Office, Ulaanbaatar Water Supply and Sewerage Authority, large-scale industries and industrial zones/estates.

A project Facility is envisioned in the concept note, to develop transactional capacity amongst the relevant government departments to conceptualize and negotiate wastewater reuse initiatives, design transactions and implement PPP projects. The Facility will also structure appropriate financing mechanisms.