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Project Spotlight: United Water New Jersey Water Treatment Facility


UWCORP Water Treatment Plant1United Water New Jersey was facing a number of challenges: growing consumer demand, new stringent drinking water regulations from the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection, taste and odor issues in the treated drinking water, and aging water treatment plant equipment.

Project Highlights

United Water New Jersey needed to upgrade its drinking water facility to address these challenges. The utility chose CDM Smith from a group of three pre-qualified design-build, engineering-contracting companies, to design and build the 200-mgd, $100 million water treatment facility.

The plant upgrade included implementation of new, pre-ozonation facilities containing the largest high-rate dissolved air flotation (DAF) process in the United States, as well as new disinfection facilities prior to filtration. The high-rate DAF removes 90 percent of particles and algae from source water before it is filtered, saving energy and producing higher quality water. The DAF also requires one-eighth the process tank volume needed for traditional sedimentation clarification, conserving 12 acres of woodland.

The ozone generators were installed within the existing equipment’s footprint and building space – eliminating the need to construct a new ozone generation building, preserving green space and saving over $3.5 million.


CDM Smith designed, permitted and constructed all of the major process treatment units in 21 months. That was half the time that a conventional design and construction approach would have required. The project was completed ahead of schedule and met pending regulatory deadlines.

The project was also completed under budget, thereby minimizing customer rate increases. During the project, 400 carpenters, laborers, ironworkers, pipe fitters, electricians and other trades people were employed – while customers never lost a day of service. The existing plant remained fully operational throughout the project. 

Design-Build Delivery Methods for Water & Wastewater Projects

Guidelines for Conducting the Procurement Process


Successful design-build or construction management-at-risk projects begin with a well-planned and thoughtfully executed procurement process. This process should be based on the owner’s objectives, expectations and priorities that are clearly defined. Together or independently, these variables can affect the timeline and complexity of the procurement process, in addition to costs.

General guidelines for conducting an efficient, successful design-build or CMAR procurement include:

  • Determining which project-delivery method to use – whether that’s fixed-price, progressive design-build or CMAR – and what project requirements will be performance-based, prescriptive or a combination of the two.

  • Seeking the advice of other owners who have conducted design-build or CMAR procurements, as well as financial or legal counsel for guidance, when appropriate.

  • Determining if, and to what extent, the CMAR or design-build firm will be allowed to self-perform.

  • Completing any work related to permitting, environmental impacts and geotechnical investigations, and making any related knowledge or materials to respondents.

  • Clearly describing the scope of services, project requirements, and desired level of involvement or control by the owner.

  • Issuing a draft contract early in the procurement process. This will allow an owner to gain insight from prospective respondents.

  • Assembling a reasonable draft contract that thoroughly addresses and allocates risks to the party best suited to control or absorb them.

  • Including appropriate provisions in the contract, if there will be shared savings between the owner and the delivery firm or firms.

In order for a procurement process to go smoothly, owners must also have a clear understanding of state and local regulations governing the site location. Clearly conveying information regarding regulations, project requirements and draft contract terms will result in a transparent process that minimizes unnecessary expenditures of time and resources for both the project owner and any potential delivery firms.

Another best practice owners should consider is conducting a pre-submittal meeting to enable potential respondents to seek clarification on the project, the RFQ or the selection process. This type of meeting also enables the owner to gauge the level of interest in the project from potential respondents.  

The key takeaway for owners is that they should put the same thought and consideration into the procurement process, as they do for the project itself. This will ensure equitable and efficient use of time and resources – both financial and otherwise – from a project’s inception to its completion. 

Download the Progressive Design-Build Procurement Guide


8 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Project-Delivery Method


water-infrastructureWhen it comes to water and wastewater infrastructure projects, more and more owners are reporting quality project results that are both on schedule and within budget. The common denominator? Collaborative project-delivery methods. But for decision makers, choosing the best project-delivery method can be challenging – every project is different.

In order to select the best project-delivery method, here are the questions you need to consider:

  1. Do state and local regulations allow the use of design-build and/or construction management-at-risk?
    The first step, and likely the most important, is to determine which of the design-build or CMAR delivery methods are legally permitted in your state or jurisdiction for water and wastewater infrastructure projects. 

  2. What are the priorities, project goals and objectives driving the decision-making process?
    It’s the overall goal of an owner to choose a delivery method that results in the completion of a high-quality facility in a timely manner, but trade-offs pertaining to project scope, schedule, quality and cost are inevitable.
  3. How involved do owners want or need to be during the design and construction of the project?
    Owners often what to participate in the design process, but the desired level of involvement will vary from project to project, as well as person to person.
  4. Will additional outside support, assistance, consultancy or project management resources be needed? If so, in what specific areas?
    Project owners and decision-makers are in the best position to determine whether or not they need bring in outside expertise.
  5. Is it necessary to select the site and purchase property prior to procuring design-build or CMAR services?
    The project site has significant impact on decisions made regarding design, construction and associated project costs. That’s why it’s a good idea to select a construction site prior to procuring design-build or CMAR services.
  6. What permits or regulatory approvals will be required, and who will be responsible for securing those approvals?
    The permitting process is always a significant project requirement and schedule driver. Securing as many of the necessary documents as possible prior to initiating the procurement process will help to mitigate potential impacts on project schedule and scope.
  7. Is adequate funding available to complete this project on schedule?
    Developing a project cost estimate that is both thorough and accurate is an essential part of the planning process.
  8. Which delivery method is best suited to satisfying these decision-making factors?
    Answering this final question requires taking into consideration knowledge about delivery methods, as well as the core stages involved in implementing a water or wastewater infrastructure project evaluated against the project’s priorities.

Choosing the best delivery method is a big decision that takes time and careful consideration. In fact, it can be as crucial to the success of a project as choosing the best service provider. Fortunately, leaders in the water and waste water industry have developed a number of project-delivery methods to meet a variety of needs, and legislative and regulatory bodies are increasingly supportive of them.

Water & Wastewater Handbook


Project Spotlight: Orlando, Florida, Wastewater Treatment Project


wastewater-treatmentWith the goal of diverting freight traffic from Orlando, Florida, CSX offered to purchase the city of Winter Haven’s 1,200-acre spray field for the development of an intermodal station. The city wanted to sell the property in order to gain the financial benefit of the sale price, in addition to creating economic develop opportunities and additional tax revenue for the community.

To eliminate the need for a spray field and discharge directly into the adjacent surface water, the level of treatment from pre-existing facilities had to be updated in order to meet the strict effluent nutrient limits.

Project Highlights

Winter Haven city officials chose to use construction management at-risk (CMAR) for the 7.5mgd, $16 million facility for two main reasons. First, as part of the purchase agreement, the property had to be available to CSX for construction of the intermodal station in a very short period of time. Second, to make the transaction a profitable one, the city developed an inflexible construction cost limit that could not be exceeded for any reason.

CMAR enabled the city of Winter Haven to accelerate the project schedule by setting the guaranteed maximum price prior to completing the design phase, thus expediting the regulatory approval and permit acquisition processes, in addition to releasing long-lead-time equipment early in the project.

The city’s very capable and experienced personnel had never delivered a project before using a collaborative delivery method. Their internal project management processes were instead designed for traditional design-bid-build delivery.


Winter Haven chose Haskell as its CMAR firm. Haskell openly communicated and informed the client on CMAR delivery, which created trust and ensured a successful outcome. The firm prepared milestone estimates and conducted value-engineering studies to ensure the project construction costs were kept below the value that had been used to determine the viability of the project. The value-engineering studies led to approximately $1.9 million in savings across the lifespan of the project.

Compared to design-bid-build delivery, using CMAR shortened the overall project schedule by six months, adhering to the strict timelines outlined in the purchase agreement. In addition, Haskell returned $300,000 to the city of Winter Haven at project completion. 


Project Spotlight: Carroll County, Maryland, Water Treatment Plant


In Maryland, the Carroll County Bureau of Utilities needed a 4-mgd expansion added onto their existing 3-mgd water treatment plant in order to adequately serve the county’s 31,000 residents. The bureau also needed to design and construct a new 24-inch water transmission main, as well ancillary equipment, structures and facilities.

These activities needed to be undertaken on an accelerated schedule while continuing to operate the existing water treatment facility, while modifying the existing solids-handling operations. Carroll County officials chose progressive design-build project delivery to meet these objectives.

Project Highlights

AECOM was chosen through a competitively-bid procurement process. They were required to provide a fixed price for engineering and a not-to-exceed cost for construction. The design was advanced to 60 percent, on which a guaranteed maximum price was established for the construction portion of the project.

Carroll County asked AECOM to develop an alternative facility layout to reduce construction time and save significant capital and operational costs. The alternate design, developed by AECOM during the procurement process, consolidated the facility’s primary components into one streamlined, compact structure. Design and construction cost totaled $27.5 million.

The tight site constraints and accelerated schedule necessitated innovative planning and partnering with the county and its consultant. The AECOM team developed an environmentally-friendly, multi-level compact footprint that housed all treatment features, administrative spaces, chemical areas and clearwell under a single roof.


AECOM’s design also reduced construction time by three months and saved Carroll County approximately $3 million. In addition, the new facility employed a state-of-the-art, highly-automated computer system designed to aid operations staff in the day-to-day management tasks of the new plant, such as chemical addition, dissolved-air flotation and membrane filtration.

The expanded plant will be large enough to meet the drinking water supply needs of the residents of Carroll County, Maryland, for years to come.


Water & Wastewater Handbook


Answering Questions about CMAR and Design-Build Delivery


During a recent education and discussion session with a state regulatory agency, the following questions pertaining to the differences in design-build and CMAR delivery were addressed. Currently, most State SRF and DWRF programs require completion and approval of design prior to construction as well as a competitive bidding process. 

1. There are three basic design-build delivery methods in the WDBC Handbook: progressive design-build (PDB), fixed-price design-build (FPDB), and construction management at-risk (CMAR). Is it correct to assume that a project that utilizes PDB and CMAR concurrently could not occur?

Response: This is a correct assumption - both CMAR and PDB, while philosophically and functionally similar, are two different delivery models (please refer to the WDBC Handbook for greater details on the differences).

2. Is the proper way to include construction management as part of a municipal or wastewater construction project to use the construction management at-risk (CMAR) delivery method?

Response: Not necessarily, because the circumstances in which it is used depend on the definition of construction management within the CMAR delivery model. The emphasis is procurement of the CMAR on primarily qualifications (where price component can be a factor); contracting with the CMAR firm early in the design process for constructability and value engineering, and optimizing the design to accommodate a more efficient construction process. Depending on a state’s legislative rules, a CMAR firm can both subcontract work and self-perform work. The agency or municipality can emphasize its desires based upon limiting the amount a CMAR can self-perform, or even mandate that a certain percentage of the work be self-performed. This approach allows for competitive pricing for all packages, and there are a number of ways to approach the delivery method.

3. Is it true that the construction manager (CM) and project designer must be two separate entities – while the CM is usually a general contractor?

Response: Yes, this is a correct statement. the CMAR firm and the designer are separate. Having said this, some states (e.g., Texas) allow the same entity to be both CMAR and designer; however, both contracts must be procured under a competitive process (either best value or guaranteed maximum price).

4. Does the CM provide input to the designer during the design process and then manage the construction and delivery of the finished project?

Response: Yes…also see above with respect to the CMAR’s ability to actually the perform work.

5. In CMAR, construction personnel (e,g., the general contractor) are integrated into the design process early to resolve potential constructability, schedule, and other issues prior to construction (also see the other responses).


6. With CMAR there are two possible scenarios: 1. Using guaranteed maximum price (GMP), which can be defined prior to construction; and the CM/GC will act as the GC during construction; and 2. The project can go out for bid and the CM/GC can either bid on the project or subcontract the construction work.

Response: Essentially, yes! The GMP can be converted to a lump sum. And, the CMAR (or CM/GC as referred to in some states) can break the project up into work packages as described in item #2 above.

7. In the progressive-design build (PDB) method, is it possible to start construction after the design has been completed and approved?

Response:  Yes, and within a state regulatory process, we typically see the following actions occuring:

  • The selected PDB firm submits preliminary design documents for initial review, comment, and outline of phasing
  • The agency reviews and provides concurrence with approach
  • The selected PDB firm submits final design packages in phases
  • And, as the agency approves the various packages, the PDB project is permitted to begin construction on the approved phases, depending on the authorization and preview of the reviewing agency

8. If the Agency knows early in the project development phase that it will go out for bid, how does that decision change the CMAR delivery method (besides there being no need for a GMP)?

Response: Assuming that the entire project is procured as a single project, then the project becomes a DBB. If individual packages are procured, that approach, if under the CMAR, is consistent with the intent of CMAR, subject to the self-perform criteria.

9. It appears that the general contractor is usually the CM. Can the CM be an entity other than a GC?  If so, please give examples.

Response: Because of bonding, licensing and insurability, states require that the CMAR carry the appropriate levels consistent with GC applications. However, the CMAR can be any entity that meets these requirements, whether of not it is a “traditional GC”.  Examples can be found in the WDBC Handbook.  

10. How is the method adapted when the CM is a design engineering firm? 

Response: Agencies must comply with licensing requirements. Most WDBC member companies are capable of providing both design and construction, and are licensed to do both. Most “traditional design firms” do not carry the appropriate licensing to perform CMAR services, and most “traditional general contractors” are not licensed to provide design services.

11. WDBC’s Handbook discusses the RFP process for CMAR.  If the CM is a design engineering firm, can the municipality choose the firm based on a prior working relationship or should the RFP process be followed for every project?

Response: The RFP should be crafted to incorporate specific project drivers and owner desires as part of the selection criteria. So while a boilerplate and repeatable approach is desired for efficiency, the desired qualifications, weighting and selection criteria should be project specific. This would be the case for both CMAR and PDB.  

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Download the Progressive Design-Build Procurement Guide



Parsons Breaks Ground on CMAR Desalination Project


WDBC member Parsons recently held a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction of a brackish groundwater desalination project for the San Antonio (Texas) Water System (SAWS). Event participants included SAWS trustees and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro as well as other state and local dignitaries.

In 2013, Parsons—along with a joint venture partner—was selected by SAWS to serve as the construction manager at-risk for this critical program. The scope of work includes 13 raw water production wells, raw and finished water conveyance, residual conveyance, three deep injection wells, a reverse osmosis membrane water treatment plant, a 7.5‑MGD finished water storage reservoir, chemical treatment systems, supervisory and data acquisition controls, and a new administration building that incorporates the first phase of the desalination plant and public access facilities.

“As a member of the joint venture team providing construction management at-risk services for San Antonio Water System’s brackish groundwater desalination program, Parsons is honored to have participated in last week’s ceremony, which marked an important step forward for the project,” said Garry Higdem, Parsons Group President.

“We look forward to assisting our customer in their efforts to both advance their sustainable water supply strategy and meet the community’s future water needs,” added Virginia Grebbien, Parsons Group President.

“It is becoming more and more common for cities to look at brackish water. El Paso is already doing it, (and there are) several cities that are looking at it,” said SAWS Director of Engineering Ashok Kaji. “This is the technology that is relatively simple to do and certainly it is going to grow exponentially in the future because of the scarcity of water.”

Construction has begun and completion of the first phase is slated for 2016—with two additional phases to follow. When completed, SAWS’ plant will be the largest inland desalination plant in the United States.

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Water & Wastewater Handbook


City of Annapolis Awards Design-Build Contract for Water Treatment


City of Annapolis Water Design Build GroundbreakingCity leaders in Annapolis, Maryland broke ground recently on a $35 million water treatment plant project, the largest construction project in the city’s history. The design-build project will update the City's aging water infrastructure with a new state-of-the-art facility.

“I am so impressed with this facility and applaud the fact it showcases environmental efficiencies, increased cost savings, and improved reliability,” Mayor Michael Pantelides said. “I want to thank Public Works Director David Jarrell for producing a successful team consisting of staff, the design builder, and owner representatives, all working together to create a new state-of-the-art facility responsible for producing and delivering more than 1.5 billion gallons of water each year to our residents and businesses.” 

In March 2013, the city awarded a contract for the design and construction of the new water treatment plant to WDBC members CDM Smith and Haskell (which have collaborated to form a joint venture), to be located adjacent to the existing plant.

Design-Build is a collaborative delivery process for construction projects. One firm, or team of firms, is contracted to perform all phases of the project, including site survey and investigation, design, permitting, bonding, construction management, and construction. Unlike traditional design, low bid, and construction, one design-build firm provides the client with a single point of accountability, allowing for construction-related input at every stage of the design, further reducing time and construction costs, and results in a design that enables the use of construction best practices.

In 2009, a comprehensive facility assessment indicated that the existing treatment plant was at the end of its useful life. The assessment noted that the plant has many critical pieces of equipment for which repair parts are unobtainable, and portions of the plant lacked redundancy. Based on a 50 year life cycle cost analysis, the City concluded that the most cost effective and risk minimizing option was to construct a new facility. The new plant is expected to be fully operational in early 2016. 

“We are eager to start the construction phase of this project,” Public Works Director David Jarrell said. “After nearly six years of assessing the old plant, awarding the design-build contract, and designing the new plant, we are ready to start the 20-months of construction. We look forward to opening and operating the new state-of-art plant in 2016.” 

In 1912, Annapolis was one of the first water systems in the United States to add a filtration system. At the time, the Maryland State Board of Health reported that Annapolis' water was far superior to that of Maryland’s largest city. In 1939, Annapolis drilled its first drinking water well and began mixing that with water from the reservoir.

In 1985, during water distribution repairs, the city discovered some wooden water pipes that were used to carry water to residents. It is estimated these pipes pre-date the Civil War. The filtration building was built in 1929 and this building is the main portion of the city's water treatment system still in use today. 

Those attending Monday’s ground-breaking included: Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides, Annapolis Alderpersons, Maryland State Senator John Astle, Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers, former Mayor’s Ellen Moyer and Joshua J. Cohen, Project Executive for the Design-Builder CDM Smith/Haskell Joint Venture Peter Kinsley, Heery/Atkins/HDR Owner’s Representative Team, Annapolis Department of Public Works Director David Jarrell, Annapolis Water Treatment Superintendent James FitzGerald, Water/Sewer Program Manager Thora Burkhardt, Project Manager Lily Openshaw, project team members, and other elected and invited guests.

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Design-Build Delivery Methods for Water & Wastewater Projects

Procuring a Design-Build or Construction Management At-Risk Project


describe the imageThe most successful design-build (DB) and construction management at-risk (CMAR) projects begin with a well planned procurement process that is based on the owners's objectives, expectations and clearly-identified priorities. Individually or together, these attributes can affect the duration and complexity of the procurement process, as well as its cost. For a successful procurement process, an owner must have knowledge of state and local regulations and must provide a clear statement of the project's requirements, as well as a draft contract that includes terms, selection criteria and schedule. Clearly conveying this information in a transparent process minimizes unnecessary expenditures of time and resources for both the owner and potential design-build or CMAR firms.

Here are some overarching guidelines to facilitate a successful design-build or CMAR procurement.

  • Determine which project-delivery method to use - fixed-price or progressive design-build, or CMAR - and whether project requirements will be performance-based, prescriptive, or a combination.
  • Seek the advice of other owners who have conducted design-build or CMAR procurements, in addition to obtaining appropriate legal and financial guidance.
  • Determine whether, and to what extent, the design-build or CMAR firm will be allowed to self-perform (often the result of state laws that reflect the balance of influence among owners, general contractors, and subcontractors).
  • Complete, and make available to respondents, any work related to permitting, environmental impacts, and site geotechnical investigations.
  • Clearly describe the scope of services, project requirements (including desired LEED certification level, if applicable), and desired level of owner involvement and control.
  • Issue a draft contract early in the procurement process to gain insight from prospective respondents. Present the schedule, selection criteria and process, and communication protocols to be used in the procurement process.
  • Assemble, and include in procurement documents as appropriate, a reasonable draft contract that equitably addresses and allocates risks to the party best suited to control or absorb them.
  • If shared savings between the owners and delivery firm(s) will be allowed, include appropriate provisions in the contract. Keep the contract language clear and format uncomplicated - avoiding unnecessary complexity that can reduce participation, create delays, or increase costs.
Design-build projects are all about teamwork. In the most successful projects, the designer, the builder, and owner collaborate seamlessly for the duration of the effort. They work together as a single team based on trust, with a single goal: to deliver a quality product on time and on budget. Establishing this relationship of trust begins with a well structured procurement process and clear communications between the parties.
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Water & Wastewater Handbook

What Is A Construction Management at-Risk Project?


With the volume of investment required to maintain and replace our nation's aging water infrastructure on the rise, Owners are searching for project delivery models that offer improved outcomes and increased delivery speed while also promoting cost efficiency. This has led to an increased focus on collaborative delivery models in which construction personnel are integrated into the design and construction process early, and the contractor is selected based on qualifications, cost, and other non-price factors.

What is Construction Management at-Risk?

Construction Management at-Risk is a collaborative delivery method in which the project design is the responsibility of an engineering firm retained by the owner. Construction is the responsibility of a separate contractor, also retained by the owner, who also performs pre-construction services during design development. The engineering firm and contractor typically work together during design development to address issues (such as constructability, scheduling and value engineering) and to mitigate risk during construction.

CMAR v. Design-Bid-Build

CMAR is contractually similar to design-bid-build (DBB) delivery in two regards, though there are significant differences. In both DBB and CMAR delivery, design is the responsibility of an engineering firm and construction is the responsibility of a separate contractor. Unlike DBB, however, the contractor in a CMAR delivery can function as the owner’s construction manager during design, as well as general contractor during construction. Moreover, in a CMAR procurement process, the construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC) is typically selected based on qualifications—rather than price, which is the standard criterion for selecting a builder in DBB procurement. In both DBB and CMAR delivery, the owner retains significant design risk. Unlike DBB delivery, however, the CM/GC is involved in the design process, which increases budget certainty and decreases design risk associated with constructability considerations.

construction management at risk resized 600

The decision to use CMAR should be made—and the GC/CM selected and integrated into the project team—as early as possible, but no later than when the design is 30% complete. In the early stages of design development, the use of CMAR delivery can contribute invaluable input to the site work, site layout, constructability, and general arrangements regarding structure and process. Much beyond the 30% design level, opportunities for major constructability impacts may be reduced or lost. Because it is relatively new, owners’ lack of familiarity with CMAR project delivery—as well as legislative restrictions in states where it has not yet been approved—has limited its use to date.

CMAR Distinguishing Features

Construction Management at-Risk projects are characterized by:

  • Two independent contracts: design and construction.
  • A two-phase construction contract: 1) Preconstruction services during design; and 2) construction.
  • CM/GC selected early—when design is no more than 30% complete, with selection based primarily on qualifications, and the option to consider a fee proposal.
  • CM/GC provides guaranteed maximum price (GMP) and schedule when design is approximately 60% (or more) complete. Owner may choose to reject GMP offer and proceed with DBB.
  • CM/GC becomes actively involved in review of design process once selected.
  • Owner is both buyer and project integrator.
  • CM/GC responsible only for following the design detail; not for overall plant performance. Risk for plant performance is determined between the owner and the designer. The CM/GC provides input for constructability improvement purposes, not for design, structural, or process effectiveness.

Data from surveys conducted by the Water Design-Build Council has demonstrated that the use of CMAR delivery enables owners to achieve quality projects by employing innovative practices that result in timely schedules and cost-effective methods. Given the many benefits and positive experiences reported, it is expected that the use of CMAR delivery will continue to increase.

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Water & Wastewater Handbook

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