Qingdao Sino French Hairun: century-old water plant’s journey to green growth and ecological protection

In line with the national strategy to become a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) demonstration zone, and a global maritime hub, it is now imperative for Qingdao to expand its water production capacity to meet the city’s development needs. In 2002, Qingdao Sino French Hairun Water Supply Company Limited (“Sino French Hairun”), the first Sino-French public utility joint venture in Qingdao between SUEZ and Qingdao Hairun Water Group, was put into operation by the beautiful Baisha River. The JV mapped out a new blueprint for its owned century-old Xianjiazhai water treatment plant (WTP). In 2012, SUEZ invested in, built, and currently operates an industrial wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Dongjiakou, Qingdao, to help a steel company achieve 100% reuse of industrial wastewater. This achievement epitomizes the circular economy in the Dongjiakou Economic Zone.


Currently, Sino French Hairun operates and manages two WTPs with a daily water production capacity of 726,000 m3, accounting for 85% of the total water supply of Qingdao urban area and serving more than 3 million citizens in this tourist hotspot also known as the “Switzerland of the East.”

The mission
Urban water supply is a concern for many households. It is also a key way of maintaining quality of life for a city’s residents. However, due to global warming, Qingdao is facing raging heat waves and freshwater resource shortages. Currently over 90% of the city’s urban water supply relies on water diversion from the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, resulting in significant quality changes of raw water. The government’s infrastructure plan includes an ambitious goal of improving urban water supply quality and the taste of drinking water, as well as the safe, secure production of drinking water.
Our Solution
In 2016, based on the Proposal to Improve Urban Drinking Water Quality in Qingdao (approved by the Qingdao Municipal Party Committee and the Municipal Government) Sino French Hairun, a SUEZ JV, took on the challenge of improving the quality of the urban water supply and the taste of drinking water, as well as the safe, secure production of drinking water. The JV became responsible for managing two of the three main WTPs in Qingdao – Xianjiazhai WTP and Baisha River WTP – which have a respective daily water production capacity of 366,000 m3 and 360,000 m3. By leveraging a comprehensive water supply network that draws water from four main sources (the Yellow River, Dagu River, Laoshan Reservoir, and the East Line of Yangtze River South-North Water Diversion) as well as other secondary sources, Sino French Hairun is fully committed to adopting advanced technologies in its water production, to improve the quality of drinking water and enhance public satisfaction.

Change starts with water quality

Transforming the traditional process for tertiary treatment

With the goal of improving the taste of tap water and the consistency of finished water quality for the entire city, Sino French Hairun launched full-scale, tertiary treatment projects at Xianjiazhai WTP in 2016 and Baisha River WTP in 2017. These projects use SUEZ’s integrated water treatment solution and tertiary treatment process. The water purification process involves ozone pretreatment, coagulation-sedimentation-sand filtration, ozone posttreatment and activated carbon filtration, as well as partial membrane treatment. In addition to the conventional treatment process, an ozone-activated carbon system and an ultrafiltration system are added to achieve full coverage of tertiary treatment. The treated water shows significantly improved quality in terms of organic matter removal, taste, the removal of turbidity, and bacterial and viral, etc.


The ultrafiltration membrane treatment process is deployed for critical infrastructure projects. There are rare ultrafiltration membrane treatment units built to this scale in China, and this successful implementation elevates water quality to the next level.

Ultrafiltration membrane treatment unit

The membrane treatment facilities include lift pumps, security filters, ultrafiltration membrane modules and membrane module water cleaning, and chemical cleaning equipment. The raw water enters the ultrafiltration system after passing through the activated carbon filter tank, and the ultrafiltration feed water enters the 0.1mm self-cleaning filter through the feed pump. The water then enters the public distribution parent pipe and then each treatment membrane column through the flow control valve.

Smart water management to reduce costs and enhance efficiency

In addition to improving water quality through technological upgrades, new processes and equipment, Sino French Hairun is committed to continuous innovation and to the application of smart water services to inform production, reduce costs, and increase operational efficiency. The two WTPs it manages are now able to operate unattended with the help of artificial intelligence; this has greatly improved efficiency, reduced staff patrol man-hours, led to performance uplifts, and reduced costs.
At the same time, the company has ensured that water quality monitoring and alerts are built into day-to-day operations management and have set up online monitoring of raw water turbidity, acidity and alkalinity. Additional key quality metrics are also applied, to test the quality of raw water and finished water against control parameters. When control limits are exceeded, a voice alarm alerts, so managers can adjust protocols in a timely manner.

Spreading the word on ecological protection and building a green environment together

In 2017, Qingdao introduced a ‘Beautiful Qingdao’ Program of Action to improve its urban appearance and environment across the board. For the WTPs, creating a clean and green water ecosystem is a concrete example of implementing the municipal government’s strategy. Sino French Hairun embraced the “sponge city” concept and designated an area for a green ecosystem landscape with sponge functions at the Baisha River WTP. The company increased the greening area at the plant, effectively controlling the overflow of rainwater and showcasing the many benefits of a sponge city to visitors during an open day. The company also continues to engage various stakeholders through environmental engineering activities.
The result
  • The successful deployment of the advanced treatment facility at the Baisha River WTP improves quality of life for Qingdao citizens and enhances the profile of Qingdao City, as well as that of Shandong Province.
  • After tertiary treatment, the treated water meets EU direct drinking water standards and has the following water quality parameters:
  1.  Turbidity ≤0.1 NTU
  2.  100% removal of Giardia and Cryptosporidium
  3.  >99% bacteria removal
  4.  >90% minimum virus removal rate
  • The smart water plant provides new technologies and a vision to be able to support, in future, drinkable water directly from the tap for the city’s residents.

daily water production
meets standards for water produced from the WTP
~ 85
of the total water supply of Qingdao urban area