Réunion’s new wastewater system fully complies with EU standards

Sewage treatment facilities are being extensively upgraded in and around Saint-Denis on La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean. The work brings the island's administrative capital, as well as nearby Sainte-Marie and Sainte-Suzanne, into line with relevant EU legislation.

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Dubbed 'Grand Prado', after the site itself, the public-private partnership project includes a treatment plant with at least a 160 000 population capacity. Sewage sludge produced by other new facilities may be turned into useful products such as agricultural fertiliser and biogas.

Three communes

La Réunion is a French overseas region and thus an EU outermost region. Located in the north of the island, Saint-Denis is the focus of a five-year project to update the city's sewage system for a growing population. The work also improves this system's links to two neighbouring communes.

Much of the project concentrates on upgrading the Grand Prado STEP, or sewage treatment plant. Current facilities are limited to handling sewage for the equivalent of 130 000 people. The new plant caters for a further 30 000, with expansion potential to 235 000 by 2030. The disinfected discharge from this plant is guaranteed to be equal to 'bathing water' quality or better.

Also under construction are new facilities to handle the sewage-sludge created by the STEP. As a result, islanders look forward to receiving agricultural fertiliser. Biogas generated by sludge digestion can be burnt and turned into electricity. Some of the sludge may be further treated to enhance its quality, enabling reuse for local irrigation. Scrubbing towers remove the sludge's unpleasant odours.

Lastly, three pumping towers allow the STEP to be connected to the wastewater collection systems in Sainte-Marie and Sainte Suzanne, including the island's main airport.

Local and island-wide benefits

Veolia Eau, the company charged with management of the facilities, must monitor all resulting discharges and noise levels. This ensures compliance with EU standards for urban wastewater treatment.

Beneficiaries of the project include all local inhabitants, some of which were previously unconnected to a wastewater system. By-products, such as the fertiliser and biogas, benefit the island in general. Over 60 jobs are expected to be created by this project and more than 10 after implementation.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Step Grand Prado” is EUR 105 935 484, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 25 963 550 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. It comes under the financing priority “Organising the island's territory on the basis of new performance parameters” of the Operational Programme “Réunion”.

Draft date