Clean drinking water for 17,000 families in Hemmathagama


17,000 families in Hemmathagama will have access to clean drinking water when work is completed on a new intake and water treatment facility connected to a newly laid out pipeline network.

Last week, the first pipe was laid for the water treatment plant by Ballast Nedam International Projects B.V., a construction and development company from the Netherlands with a 140-year history of making life accessible for communities.

In Hemmathagama, a small town near Kegalle in Sri Lanka’s Sabaragamuwa province, families from seven villages still drink untreated, raw water from the river Auphinella. Access to clean drinking water will change their lives, meaning fewer diseases among the residents and less pressure on the area’s already overstretched healthcare system.

Ballast Nedam, with mother company Renaissance Construction, will handle the project from the design stage up to the connection to 17,000 houses, including the placement of water meters. The project will lay out a 40 km pipeline across seven water reservoirs, creating a distribution network clocking in at just over 70 kilometers. This will be supplemented by a 21,000 m3 per day capacity water treatment plant.

The pipes run partly underground and partly above or across grounds owned by many different residents, as in every village there will be a separate water reservoir. The company has ensured that consent is obtained for this effort. With this, the progress on water reservoirs has exceeded 50% of the construction and work has been initiated on the water treatment plant. This is the activity for which the first pipe was laid last week.

Ballast Nedam finds the mountainous terrain a big advantage in implementing the project as the height differences mean that the water supply can make use of gravity for distribution, with no water pumps required.

This not only makes it cheaper, says the team, but also more environmentally friendly. The company is deeply conscious of this environmental impact, which is considered essential for success. Ballast Nedam has aligned its mission with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN, which is in practice in their projects worldwide.

In Hemmathagama, the team has accomplished this by designing what they recognize as a matchless water treatment and transmission project that uses a gravity based and non-pumping system for low energy consumption and operating cost.

The project is on behalf of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB), while project financials are outsourced to the ING Bank in Netherlands. Despite a global pandemic with local impact, Ballast Nedam and the NWSDB are working around the clock to ensure that the project delivers on time.

“By delivering this clean, treated water supply to the families of Hemmathagama, we expect to improve the socioeconomic prospects of this area. That is what’s driving us to overcome any Covid-19 related obstacles to make sure that we deliver on time, and exceeding expectations,” said Serkan Kumbasar, Project Manager at Ballast Nedam.