After 50 years of feeding the people of the city with fresh water, Jeddawis bade adieu to the last two chimneys of the desalination plant on the Red Sea coast. The chimneys had been scheduled to close in February 2020, but it happened, a few months ahead of schedule, following a directive of the minister of environment, water and agriculture to close the steam station and stop with it the spread of fumes that had been in the air since 1990. In 2015, the desalination plant had closed two chimneys in Phase 3 as a prelude to their final exit from the work system of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), and its replacement with the Jeddah Reverse Osmosis Plant as well as with a number of desalination plants in Rabigh and Shuaybah.
The SWCC has justified the shutdown due to the high operating costs of the existing plant, with saving of 4,608 ton of heavy fuel per day along with economically viable alternative technologies and the sustainability of an ideal environment. Alternatives include the launch of a multi-effect distillation (MED) unit within SWCC’s Shuaybah plants with a production capacity of 91,200 cubic meters per day; commissioning of Shuaybah Reverse Osmosis Plant of the private sector with a production capacity of 250,000 cubic meters per day; and completing the project to increase pumping on the Shuaybah–Quwaizah pipeline by 315,000 cubic meters per day along with a possibility of increasing pumping along Shuayhab-Briman pipelines with a capacity of 100,000 cubic meters.
This will also be followed by improving the efficiency of Shuaybah plants to increase production by 150,000 cubic meters per day and the inauguration of Shuaybah Reverse Osmosis (RO4) plant with a production capacity of 400,000 cubic meters per day, in a phased manner, starting October.