Dutch water treatment solutions for the tannery sector in Bogota, Colombia

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There are more than 249 active tanneries in the San Benito region in Bogota. To comply with environmental guidelines, the tanneries have tried out various measures; however, continue to have a serious impact on water and on their surroundings. This is primarily due to the use of chromium, the creation of sulphides during the purification process, and the high COD load in waste water.

In the context of the Partners for Water programme, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) tasked Witteveen+Bos with conducting a technical assessment of the current impact of the tannery industry on the Bogota River. We reviewed the available solutions for the reuse and treatment of water. Special attention was devoted to how the Dutch water sector can contribute by establishing contacts with Colombian partners and with an intensive matchmaking process in 2021. The contract was carried out in close collaboration with representatives of the Office of the Mayor of Bogota (Environmental Service), RVO, Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bogota.

On the basis of the collected information, it became clear that the challenges are not only technical in nature, but that solutions must also focus on topics including governance, collaboration between institutions and the private sector, product value, lifecycle analysis (LCA), and financing.