The North American Development Bank (NADB) announced the disbursement of a loan totaling US$22 million ($320 million pesos) to GS Inima Environment, S.A. (a subsidiary of South Korean company GS Engineering & Construction) for the construction a 5.7-millon gallons a day (mgd) capacity desalination plant in Ensenada, Baja California.
According to sources, the remaining funds were to be provided by the national infrastructure fund Fonadin and the concessionaire.
GS Inima Environment, S.A. was awarded with a 20-year contract for the building and operation of the plant, which will ensure sustainable and reliable drinking water service for currently and future growing demands in the City of Ensenada.
The construction of the desalination facility, with a total cost of US$48 million, includes a direct seawater intake, pretreatment facilities, pump stations, water lines, a reverse osmosis seawater treatment plant, post treatment facilities, as well as a conveyance system for discharging concentrate into the ocean. The project was certified by the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) in December 2012.
Geronimo Gutiérrez, NADB Managing Director, sated:
"NADB is pleased to provide its first financing for a desalination plant. As groundwater resources become increasingly strained, collaborating with federal, state and local governments in finding the necessary solutions to provide safe water for human consumption is a priority for the Bank."
The local utility, Comisión Estatal de Servicios Públicos (CESPE) obtains most of its water supply from four aquifers by extracting a total of 15.8 mgd. Several studies conducted by the Baja California state water utility, Comisión Estatal del Agua (CEA) and the Mexican federal water agency, CONAGUA, indicated that, given the region's dry climate and the rapid depletion of groundwater in the area, a desalination plant using seawater was the necessary solution, from both a technical and economic standpoint.
The North American Development Bank is a financial institution established and capitalized in equal parts by the United States and Mexico for the purpose of financing environmental infrastructure projects along their common border.
Mexico currently has 435 desalination plants, according to the national institute of water technology, IMTA. The largest municipal plant is located in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur state, producing 200l/s, and is operated by Spain's OHL.
In November 2011, Spanish desalination and water treatment company Inima OHL Medio Ambiente onwed by OHL, was bought by GS Engineering & Construction, a South Korean company based in Seoul, for € 231 million.