No risk of virus exposure from treated effluent: Haya Water

Haya Water, the state-owned utility overseeing wastewater treatment services in Oman, has ruled out the risk of exposure to the deadly coronavirus from its treated effluent, which is widely used in public landscaping and municipal gardens, as well as from its compost products.

Eng Hussain Hassan Ali Abdulhussain (pictured), CEO, said the advanced technologies employed by Haya Water in the production of treated effluent from wastewater, as well as compost from sludge, eliminate the risk of any residual coronavirus remaining over at the end of the treatment process.

“Our technical people strongly believe there is no virus leftover either in the treated effluent or in the sludge that goes in for composting,” said Eng Hussain. “The MBR (membrane bioreactor) technology that we use in wastewater treatment has very fine porosity that does not permit viruses to get into the treated effluent. Likewise, heat treatment of the sludge eliminates any potential for viruses remaining over in the compost.”

He made the comments while participating in a webinar hosted by The Business Year on the theme, ‘Power, Water & Sustainability: A Post-COVID-19 reality’, on Wednesday. Fellow panelists included Shaikh Mohammed al Harthy, Executive Vice President – be’ah; and Eng Ahmed Hamed al Subhi, Managing Director – ACWA Power Oman.

While the end products are essentially virus-free, Haya Water is eager to make sure that any pathogens entering the wastewater system do not pose any risk to the utility’s staff as its courses through the vast network, according to the CEO.

The potential for deadly COVID-19 pathogens to be lurking in residential sewage, as well as greywater from sinks and showers, needs to be fully investigated to secure Haya Water’s workers from the risk of contamination, he said.

Towards this end, Haya Water plans to acquire suitable equipment for the testing of wastewater samples drawn from key locations across the network, particularly in suspected hotspots. “Unfortunately, we do not have the required testing equipment at our labs at the moment, but we are looking at getting this equipment into Oman,” the CEO said.

“We are also looking to see what happens to the virus when it enters the networks; does it remain active or is it destroyed? We want to make sure that our staff is safe when they attend to any blockages, sewage facilities, or such problems,” he added.