Recycling Water in Water-Stressed Communities

Through our World-Leading Operations Performance 2025 Sustainability Goal, Dow has identified six of our manufacturing sites as key water-stressed sites where we are committed to reducing the freshwater intake intensity by 20 percent. At one of these sites in Tarragona, Spain, an innovative local collaboration is helping save water by reclaiming and reusing it again.

Building on the success of a similar project at our Terneuzen site in The Netherlands, Dow has partnered with local companies and water boards at our industrial complex in Tarragona, Spain, to reuse local wastewater. Water that already has been used for normal household and business purposes in the Spanish cities of Salou, Tarragona and Vilaseca is treated at the Camp de Tarragona Advanced Water Reclamation Plant, operated by Veolia Environnement S.A., Aguas Industriales de Tarragona S.A. and the government-owned Catalan water agency, L’Agència Catalana de l’Aigua. The treated water is then fed through a pipeline to various plants within the Camp de Tarragona petrochemical complex for alternative industrial use. This frees up freshwater for the UNESCO Ebro River Basin and local communities and highlights the power of public-private cooperation in watershed management.

Dow uses the re-treated water for our cooling tower operations. The ethylene cracker cooling tower now uses up to 40 percent reclaimed water (160 m3/h) and has reduced chemical usage by 23 percent. The project enabled Dow to reduce its freshwater use by 22 percent and effluent discharge by 49 percent. Depending on the season, this frees up more than 200 m3/h of water rights for the municipality.

By reclaiming municipal wastewater for industrial purposes, Dow is able to minimize water stress and preserve freshwater to meet municipal, tourism and agricultural demands. The goal is to use 90 percent reclaimed municipal water in its cooling tower and to leverage this solution in other plants and industries.