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80 per cent of the deep tunnel works for the Strategic Green tunnel enhancement programme completed

posted on 05/02/2013: 2823 views



Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company (ADSSC) announced yesterday the completion of 80 per cent of the deep tunnel works for the Strategic Tunnel enhancement Programme "STEP".

A total of 33km has been completed out of 41km by the end of January 2013, and is expected to finish by the final quarter of 2015.

The project achieved a huge milestone with the 5th breakthrough in December 18th, 2012 with the completion of tunnelling between work shaft 9 and work shaft 8 at Al Wathba area in Abu Dhabi.

The STEP Programme started in February 2009 by ADSSC with an approved budget of Dh5.7 billion. The Programme is one of the largest and longest gravity-driven sewerage networks in the world and a remarkable investment for Abu Dhabi's government. It's also one of the largest economical projects in developing infrastructure using advanced technology of global high standards in meeting environmental and sustainability considerations.

Abdulla Ali Musleh Al Ahbabi - ADSSC Chairman, announced that STEP is one of ADSSC's five year strategic plan initiatives in compliance with Abu Dhabi's vision 2030, which include continuing the developments of projects and building a sustainable economy to compete globally, reflecting the wise vision of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

STEP is a huge infrastructure programme that includes completing 41 kilometre of deep sewer tunnel, 43 kilometre of smaller diameter link sewers and one huge pumping station with a pumping capacity of 30m3 per second. The deep tunnel is up to 5.5 internal diameter, starting at 27m underground reaching a depth of 100m.

Al Ahbabi also indicated that ADSSC aims to contribute effectively in developing the infrastructure to meet the growing demands in Abu Dhabi and to provide environmental friendly solutions, this through its vision, services and strategic plans. Once completed STEP will be considered as an effective and efficient solution in terms of cost and sustainability to meet the long term sewerage infrastructure demands of Abu Dhabi Island and surrounding islands across to the mainland. The estimated endurance of the strategic tunnel is 80 years without the need for regular maintenance.

ADSSC is contributing effectively to achieve Abu Dhabi's vision, as it provides sewerage services and supplies treated water at global standards to various private and public sectors. ADSSC contribution is part and parcel of the infrastructure system and government services in Abu Dhabi.

Furthermore, the system will provide for an average wastewater flow of 800,000 cubic metres per day on completion in 2015, and will have an ultimate capacity to accommodate an average flow of 1.7 million cubic metres per day by 2030.

Link sewers up to 3 metres diameter will be used to intercept the flows from existing sewers upstream of the existing pumping stations, and convey the flows by gravity into the deep tunnel. The deep tunnel will then convey the flows, again by gravity, to the new main pumping station, located at Al Wathba area where the flows will be pumped out of the deep tunnel into Al Wathba Waste Water Treatment Plant to be reused for irrigation.

The deep tunnel will replace the existing main collector system and eliminate the need of 34 existing pumping stations spread over a huge land area.

The current milestone is the fifth breakthrough on STEP, with a tunnelling works at 73 metres underground. The tunnel boring machine (TBM) completed 4.2 km underground to breakthrough work shaft 8. This works was carried out under STEP contract T-03, awarded to M/S Impregilo and includes completing 9.7km of the deep tunnel in two sections, each section requiring a separate tunnel boring machine.

The 6.98m diameter tunnel boring machine started in February 2012 and achieved impressive accomplishment with a rate of 200 meter per week without any surface interruption. 70 engineers and technicians took part in this accomplishment.

The vast development of STEP to date has been was achieved by the continuous monitoring and following up with the time lined plans set by international consultants companies.

STEP offers many benefits as it provide new gravity-driven sewerage network that cover the growing demands of Abu Dhabi for the long term in parallel with the vast economic development and the population growth. It will also provide a new improved sewerage system, that offers various alternative solutions which are more efficient and environment friendly by reducing carbon emissions.

The strategic tunnel will eliminate the need of 34 existing pumping stations in Abu Dhabi mainland and surroundings. Noting that drilling works in the strategic tunnel and the link sewers are done precisely to avoid any disturbance in traffic, main roads and other infrastructure works. Beside to installing sewerage pipelines at deep level without the need for grader works.

The elimination of34 existing pumping stations will eliminate emissions and odours in different places, and will improve sewerage and environment services. It will also improve aesthetics for residential areas. The dedicated space for the current pumping stations will be used in other projects after elimination.



Due to the huge size of the sewage strategic tunnel and as one of the longest gravity - driven tunnels in the world, it is taking 8 tunnel boring machines up to 7 metres diameter to complete the deep tunnel. The 750-ton and 110m long TBM with its trailing backup equipment is used to drill through mixed ground conditions of dolomitic siltstone, claystone, mudstone, and gypsum without incident.

450,000 m3 of concrete will be used to line the deep tunnel (the equivalent of 180 Olympic size swimming pools full of concrete).

ADSSC paid great attention to the safety procedures for the programme nature and size. ADSSC holds HSE training courses regularly for the STEP team and enhances HSE education as it's everyone's responsibility to create a safe working environment. Besides implementing highest standards of safety in all work sites in the programme, constant inspecting tours are performed to assure applying safety procedures at work sites. - Emirates News Agency, WAM

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