Story by Bryan Scribner, Black & Veatch
Once buried issues, potentially crippling effects of aging water infrastructure have started to come to the surface.
Every year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates about a quarter-million water main breaks occur across the United States, threatening safe water supplies, causing street and property flooding and creating sinkholes. What's more, about 75,000 sanitary sewer overflows annually contaminate recreational waters, leading to thousands of illnesses, according to the EPA.
An April report from the EPA showed $384 billion was needed for repairs to U.S. drinking water infrastructure by 2030. This figure is up sharply from the $225 billion estimate EPA issued in 1999. The biggest chunk of investment, $247.5 billion, is estimated for distribution and transmission repairs and improvements. Another $72.5 billion is estimated for water treatment infrastructure, according to the EPA’s fifth “Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment.”
The more than $150 billion increase in capital needed to fix aging buried infrastructure by 2030 is most likely the result of “economic stress and an out of sight, out of mind” mentality among community leaders and residents, said David Egger, Senior Vice President and Executive Managing Director of the Technical Solutions group for Black & Veatch’s water business.
Egger said too much of the public does not fully understand the value of water and the services that utilities provide. “A one-day outage is generally tolerated, but as infrastructure continues to deteriorate, extended periods of low-water pressure, boil orders and emergency shutdowns are likely forthcoming,” Egger said.
Finding Funds to Address Aging Water Infrastructure
While water utilities across the U.S. know there is a problem with aging underground infrastructure, the biggest problem for most of them is finding the resources to address it, said Ahmad Habibian, Ph. D., Technical Specialist for Black & Veatch’s water business.
“The money isn’t in their hands to make all of the improvements at once, forcing many utilities to focus on urgent needs first,” he said.
Rate increases aren’t high enough to make significant infrastructure improvements, said Joseph Mantua, Client Director, Black & Veatch’s water business. That’s because the cost of safe, reliable water has in the past been based on consumption and not on the true value of the natural resource.
“There’s always been this expectation that it’s going to be as cheap as possible, and you’re always going to keep your costs down to cover the basic services and repairs,” Mantua said. “However, that mindset needs to change to take into account the value of a reliable water delivery system and the upkeep of its infrastructure, including major capital improvements.”
As demonstrated in the EPA report, the costs to make repairs will only continue to climb as systems age and deteriorate, Habibian said.
“In addition, population growth will further increase the demand for safe, reliable water services,” he said. “Hence, utilities have no choice but to address the funding shortfall through rate increases or innovative financing options in order to maintain the level of service provided to customers.”
Educating the Public
Egger said when policymakers ask their constituents to agree to rate increases for rebuilding and repairs, they’re often faced with the argument, “Well, haven’t you already been doing that?” He said the best way to combat that sentiment is through education and revamped media campaigns — articulating to ratepayers why problems exist, the potential consequences and the importance of investing in water infrastructure.
In fact, more education seems crucial at a time when nearly 60 percent of ratepayers don’t understand the costs of providing safe and reliable water services, according to respondents in Black & Veatch’s 2013 Strategic Directions in the U.S. Water Industry report. On the other hand, nearly half of water industry professionals believe their customers would be willing to support improvements through rate hikes.
Projected rate increases, however, might still not be high enough to make proactive investments in aging water infrastructure, according to Greg Kail, Director of Communications for the American Water Works Association.
“Most consumers will tell you that water is very important, but many of them do not think much about what it takes to manage, treat, test and deliver it,” he said. “When we in the water profession observe that people do not value water, often what we are really saying is that people are not willing to pay the true cost of providing water service.”
Communicating the Value of Water
To effectively communicate the value of water, Kail said it’s important that utilities relate messaging to ratepayers at “places they intersect with water.” Those areas might include water’s value in washing clothes, making coffee, cleaning vegetables or fighting fires.
“We can help them understand that water is so integral to all we do, consume and manufacture, that we can never truly pay for its value — but we most certainly can afford its cost,” he said.
To that point, Kail said water utilities have conducted several successful consumer marketing campaigns, including the following:
- The promotion of tap water through branding.
- Advertising in high-traffic areas that explains clean water is essential for public health, the economy and the environment.
- Communication efforts that provide tips for water conservation.
“Black & Veatch can help utilities by explaining the risks of not improving aging infrastructure, such as significant economic consequences, environmental hazards and dangers to human health,” Mantua said. “Utilities can basically tell their customers ‘you can pay me now, or you can pay me later.’ Either way, it’s going to cost their customers a lot more when a main breaks versus taking care of infrastructure up front.”
In addition to help in educating the public on the value of water, today’s water utilities need support in prioritizing needs, such as which infrastructure improvements must take place in five to 10 years, and which ones are longer-term projects, Habibian said.
After all, Mantua said, the United States finds its water infrastructure in its current condition largely because formal asset management practices are still relatively new to the country.
Asset management helps utilities understand how to optimize performance, cost and risk in managing assets throughout their lifecycles. It assists utilities in implementing policies, procedures and analytics programs to help them better understand the whole-life costs of buried assets. Asset management helps ensure capital is managed as efficiently as possible.
For many years, Hong Kong has been investing capital into its aging water mains assets, according to Alan Man, Vice President and Managing Director for Black & Veatch’s water business in the North Asia Pacific Region.
The Water Supplies Department (WSD) in Hong Kong introduced a program in 2000 to reduce leaks and attain network improvements. A variety of measures have been assessed and prioritized to target a cut in water loss rates from 25 percent in 2001 to 15 percent by 2015. These include active leakage control through advanced pressure management and district metering schemes as well as an ambitious program to repair and replace almost 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) of its water mains.
“Hong Kong is clearly turning the tide because of prioritized investments in its aging water mains. There are real long-term benefits from a large-scale and systematic approach,” said Man. “WSD is experiencing reduced operational and maintenance costs, and the public is experiencing less disruption from bursts and leaks.”
The figures point to success. Comparing 2000/01 with 2011/12 figures, the number of pipe bursts recorded has fallen from 2,479 to 317, while leakage cases have fallen by almost half from 21,693 to 12,111.
“All the initiatives are major components of Hong Kong’s Total Water Management strategy,” concluded Man. “The key to the program’s success is that it is founded on a clear vision and disciplined approach to optimizing the utility’s existing assets.”
This article has been republished with permission by Black & Veatch. To view the original article, visit Black & Veatch's Solutions Magazine.
Through a partnership with the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), the Water Design-Build Council is pleased to announce a new "Design-Build Done Right" webinar on Developing Procurement Documents for Progressive Design-Build Projects.
The webinar will be held on Tuesday, October 29 at 1:30 pm EST and the cost to attend is $50. Participants will qualify for 1.5 continuing education units (CEUs).
What is progressive design-build (PDB)? How does it work – and what are the key considerations in a PDB procurement -- are just a few of the topics to be presented in this webinar.
Given the benefits and growing popularity of the progressive design-build (PDB) approach to effectively deliver water infrastructure projects, the Water Design-Build Council has produced a unique set of educational documents for municipalities entitled Procurement Guide for Progressive Design-Build Projects. This webinar presents to public officials, owners, decision makers and industry members, WDBC’s user-friendly Guide that defines the steps involved in the PDB procurement process. These materials, which can be adapted for municipal use, support and facilitate the process to effectively and efficiently identify and select qualified bidders for design-build water projects focusing on progressive delivery.
Webinar participants will learn:
- The differences in a one and two step process
- How to define what is required in the RFP and RFQ
- When to use an RFP or RFQ
- The essential contract components
The course will be led by WDBC Executive Director Peter Hughes and DBIA's Brian Bedell. Click here to register now.
The Santa Monica Water Treatment Plant is approximately 2 miles from the Santa Monica City limits, and is owned by the City. The plant serves a population of 89,736. Through a progressive design-build procurement process, Water Design Build Council member Black & Veatch was selected as the contractor for a project to provide engineering, design, procurement, construction and commissioning services for both the Charnock Treatment Unit and the Santa Monica Water Treatment Plant.
Many utilities throughout the United States are increasingly facing limited fresh water supplies, mixed and/or emerging contaminants, and tighter regulations. With its Charnock Well Field closed for more than a decade due to contamination and the ink finally dry on settlements to fund a restoration project on the facilities, the City of Santa Monica faced an urgent need to return closer to water self-sufficiency. Limitations on water supplies that could be delivered to Southern California had Santa Monica’s project on the fast track to re-establish a sustainable water supply. The complex and changing regulatory environment also required an approach that would allow for progress even as specific details were being finalized.
Project Delivery Selection
Already familiar with the use of design-build (DB) through its experience on other municipal projects, the City chose a modification of the DB approach. In deciding to use Progressive Design-Build, the City was able to select the design-builder based both on qualifications and approach to problem-solving, with an open-book cost estimate for construction to be made during the 30 to 60 percent phase of design. One benefit of this approach was the collaborative relationship between the city and the design-builder to navigate the challenges of building the treatment facilities, such as additional requirements that might come from DPH review.
Black & Veatch’s approach to progressive design-build enabled the City of Santa Monica to navigate numerous emerging issues facing the project. As the City began to develop a project procurement plan, restrictions on importing water to southern California were being considered and/or implemented. It therefore became urgent for the City to quickly restore its sustainable groundwater supply. The City selection of a progressive design-build approach for design and construction of the water treatment infrastructure, offered flexibility in implementing a technical solution in a complex regulatory setting while providing a competitive price with an aggressive schedule.
The progressive design-build approach also helped the City manage the approval of a treatment facility to remove a mixture of water quality contaminants – especially those of public health concern (e.g., MTBE) – which requires more time, communication, and planning as well as increased collaboration among the owner, the design-builder, and regulatory agencies.
Black & Veatch’s services included engineering, design, procurement, construction and commissioning services for both the Charnock Treatment Unit and the Santa Monica Water Treatment Plant. The project incorporated a 3,750 g.p.m. wellhead treatment plant for MTBE and TBA removal at the Charnock well field; and a 7,000 g.p.m. treatment plant at the Arcadia site for softening, radionuclide removal, iron and manganese removal, and volatile organics removal.
With the City and Black & Veatch working collaboratively to provide rapid response at all levels to expedite restoration of the well field, the progressive design-build method allowed a 20-month project schedule to be met.
This design-build model also allowed the owner to transfer design risk to the contractor and reduced the schedule by overlapping design and construction phases while bringing continuous value engineering and constructability analysis. With flexibility throughout, the method provided the owner with a single point of contact and key guarantees, including quality assurance and quality control.
In December 2010, the city of Santa Monica restored the use of its valuable groundwater supply with the successful startup of the Charnock Well Field Restoration Project (CWRP). With the reopening the well field, the city now produces 70 percent of its water supply needs and is moving toward its 2020 goal of 100 percent self-sufficiency.
CH2M HILL joins with Coalition to promote ‘Value of Water’, a new campaign aimed at educating the public on the importance of clean water and investing in our nation’s aging infrastructure
By: Elisa M. Speranza, CH2M HILL Operations Management Business Group President
The buzz this week is all about the value of water. If you follow the water conversation on popular social channels, like Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen some discussion and excitement about a new Coalition of associations representing water and wastewater utilities and private sector companies like ours that launched on October 1.
I am excited to share that CH2M HILL has joined the Value of Water Coalition. United around a common goal to address the lack of public understanding and support for the much-needed investment in water and water infrastructure, the Coalition is on a quest to help build understanding and support for the vital water and wastewater infrastructure that underpins our economy, our environment and our very way of life.
As I shared earlier this week on my personal blog, Speranza’s Postcards, the campaign will connect and reach the American public through avenues they currently use to seek and share information, including online and through popular social media channels. Although the majority of people believe clean water is critical to our nation and the world, only 40 percent of Americans think the same of water infrastructure according to the Water Environment Federation. It’s important to inform the public about the challenges America faces in terms of our water infrastructure, which is why I’m proud that CH2M HILL is a founding member of this Coalition to help shift this perspective.
Learn more about the campaign at www.thevalueofwater.org/ and get connected on Twitter at @thevalueofwater, on Google+ at thevalueofwater, on YouTube at thevalueofwater, on Flickr at thevalueofwater and Slideshare at valueofwater. Please consider sharing with your network. The more people who understand the extent of the challenge our country faces and its potential impacts, the more likely they will be support solutions to address the root concern.
Ms. Speranza has worked on both the public utility and consulting sides of the water and wastewater business since 1985. She directs operations, administration, and client relations for CH2M HILL’s Operations Management Business Group. Her team provides long-term consulting and contract services to public and private sector organizations, including water and wastewater operations and maintenance, public works, and other city services, and facilities management and engineering. In the early 1990s, she was Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and previously was a Project Manager for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. Ms. Speranza is the past Board Chair and an active volunteer of the global nonprofit Water For People, which helps people in developing countries obtain clean water and sanitation solutions. She has served as an officer of the AWWA, the New England Water Works Association and the Massachusetts Water Works Association, and is a long-standing member of the Water Environment Federation.
The Augusta Utilities Department (AUD) has owned and operated the J.B. Messerly wastewater treatment facility since 1976. The facility receives domestic wastewater from the surrounding community, as well as a significant load from 18 major industrial contributors. The plant was originally permitted for a capacity of 46.1-mgd (monthly average), however the influent strength of the wastewater has increased over the years due to additional industrial facilities and a reduction in the inflow and infiltration into the system.
The Treatment Plant Upgrade Project
WDBC member Parsons was selected to carry out a 46 MGD, $70 million upgrade to the plant via construction management at-risk (CMAR) services to expand, modify, and rehabilitate the facility, and was responsible for the overall construction and financial performance of the project. Improvements to the system maximized use of the existing plan and increased the level of reliability in meeting stringent effluent limits. The capital improvements also helped to ensure that National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits could be reliably met at the discharge from the wastewater plant without unexpected cost increases or time delays, and protected surrounding natural and manmade wetlands. Additionally, the Parsons team performed preconstruction phase evaluations to develop a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), which saved the client approximately $8 million.
The CMAR Procurement Process
The Construction Management At Risk (CMAR) contract was awarded through a two-part, qualification-based selection process. After submitting a Statement of Qualifications, the client shortlisted three Construction Management at Risk contractors. The shortlisted contractors developed and delivered presentations to the client. A final selection was made and a contract issued to Parsons for the CMAR contract to perform pre-construction phase services. During the pre-construction phase, Parsons developed a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the construction of the facilities which was negotiated with and accepted by the owner.
Parsons interacted closely with representatives of the Augusta Utilities Department to determine the key objectives for this project, which included maintaining continuous operation of the wastewater plant throughout the work, remaining within permit limits throughout extensive plant process shutdowns and tie-ins, and coordinating continuously with the project team and City’s contract operator.
Parsons' scope of work included aeration basins, a blower/electrical building and associated equipment, a hypochlorite generation, storage and feed system, three odor treatment control facilities with individual foul-air ducting and treatment systems, a dewatering building (around the existing belt presses), and a multitude of piping and splitter boxes.
The project has resulted in improved quality of water discharged through the tertiary wetlands treatment and reduced odors. At the peak of the project, 250 jobs were created. Cost saving ideas generated $8 million in total project cost reduction and the project is on schedule. Also, the J.B. Messerly project site was awarded the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) STAR status, the highest designation in the program.
Want to learn more? Click here to get the complete case study on Augusta Wastewater Treatment Plant project!
The Maryland Department of the Environment began working toward a cleaner Chesapeake Bay by breaking ground to construct an upgrade to the Indian Head Wastewater Treatment Plant. They chose WDBC member Haskell to upgrade and expand their existing .5 MGD sewage treatment plant to reuse quality effluent meeting the requirements of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act.
The plant design included enhanced nutrient reduction technology that delivered dramatically reduced levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from being discharged into the Chesapeake Bay from that region. Excess nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, degrade water quality, which negatively impact the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries.
The Indian Head Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade is a USGBC LEED Silver Certified facility -One of the first in the nation.
This project was carried out on an active facility on an active military base. Throughout the upgrades, there could be no disruptions to the plant’s current usage. The site of the military base - in Indian Head, Maryland - also housed a number of unforeseen circumstances. The jobsite was hit with a flood, hurricane and earthquake during the course of the project, all of which did not affect the timeliness of the schedule or the outcome of the project. Another problem was discovering that the filter backwash had not been accounted for in the total flow values defined by the Navy’s design criteria.
Upon learning about the unaccounted filter backwash, Haskell immediately developed solutions to address this issue in the most cost effective manner. After presenting potential solutions, the facility's owner directed Haskell to increase the size of the SBRs, which resulted in an increase in contract value and extended the completion date by two months.
The Indian Head Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade has removed an estimated 22,842 lbs. of nitrogen, annually, that would have been discharged directly from the plant into Mattawomen Creek, the Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
“Haskell was an outstanding contractor. Extremely safe job site, excellent quality control, very well managed. Haskell truly raised the bar.”
- Joshua M Carnahan, LT, CEC, USN, NAVFAC
Construction Manager, NAVFAC Washington
CH2M HILL’s Nick Pealy discusses the benefits of adopting an asset management approach to streamline operations.
By: Nick Pealy, Senior Consultant, Asset Management and Reliability Services, CH2M HILL Operations & Maintenance Business Group
This post concludes a series of Access Water posts about asset management best practices. Read the other blogs in the series.
During the last several months, Access Water has featured a series of blogs to highlight key findings from a McGraw-Hill Construction study of asset management practices of US and Canadian utilities. CH2M HILL’s sponsorship of the study is one way we are helping expand industry knowledge on 14 leading asset management practices understanding. Utilities and organizations can use this knowledge and incorporate best practices to increase the reliability of their plants, equipment and other infrastructure, while also generating additional revenue and substantial financial savings.
In the US and Canadian water industries, the benefits of adopting asset management practices are clear. The study confirmed advanced adopters of asset management can:
- Better explain and justify budget proposals to decision makers;
- Sharpen the organization’s focus on priorities;
- Increase the organization’s understanding of the risks and consequences of alternative investment decisions;
- Balance spending between operations and maintenance, and capital investments more effectively; and
- Reduce costs without reducing service levels.
What is it about the asset management framework that results in these benefits?
First, the framework focuses not just on physical assets, but on the processes, technology and human resource capabilities necessary to efficiently and effectively maintain, repair and replace assets over their life cycle.
Additionally, the framework focuses on customer outcomes – by applying the methods and practices that encompass asset management, prioritization of spending is focused on activities and investments that result in the best outcomes for customers, while managing risk to an acceptable level.
Finally, the framework emphasizes the use of data. Decisions about where to allocate resources are not made based on a “gut feeling” or by simply repeating what was done the previous year, but rather by relying on data and analysis to confirm where investing capital will yield the highest returns and benefits for customers.
Ready to take the next steps?
If your organization or your client is thinking about implementing an asset management program or advancing an existing program, be methodical and implement an asset management approach that benefits your organization in a meaningful way. Convince decision makers by conducting a thorough evaluation and business case to prove the benefits that can be achieved by implementing an asset management program.
When considering an asset management approach, keep these tips in mind.
- Make asset management a program (and a priority!)
- Develop an Asset Management Policy – Your commitment statement
- Create and charter a steering committee led by the department head to oversee the program
- Define meaningful levels of service
- Develop performance measures –Set targets and review progress (at least quarterly) and commit to addressing problems
- Develop a risk profile for the organization – Help focus your efforts
- Assess data needs and gaps – Establish a plan to address gaps
- Train staff on the fundamentals—Levels of service, risk and consequence, performance measurement, business case development
- Require business cases – Subject these to steering committee review
- Educate decision-makers
- Communicate progress and recognize successes
- Take field trips to visit best practice organizations
Whether you are new to the asset management concept or if you have best practices to share, I encourage you to read our series of blogs on asset management best practices . Have questions about CH2M HILL’s asset management services? Contact them!
CH2M Hill is a global leader in the delivery asset management services for utilities, ports, airports, transit departments, private sector companies, and cities and towns.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has selected Water Design-Build Council member Black & Veatch and Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies to design and build a new nutrient recovery system at its Stickney Water Reclamation Plant in Cicero, IL.
The Stickney Water Reclamation Plant is the largest facility of its kind in the world. It serves 2.2 million people, treats a 260 square mile area including the central part of Chicago and 43 suburban communities, and covers 413 acres.
The MWRD, which serves more than 10 million constituents, desired a phosphorus management strategy based on anticipated changes to regulatory limits affecting its effluent discharge permits. In addition, the MWRD’s wastewater system was experiencing an accumulation of the mineral in its struvite form, which can be damaging to pipes and equipment. The new facility will improve water quality in local rivers, lakes and streams. It will also produce commercial fertilizer from recovered resources.
“The MWRD’s mission is to protect the source of our drinking water, improve the quality of area waterways, and manage water as a vital resource for the Greater Chicago area,” said Patrick D. Thompson, MWRD Commissioner and Chairman of the Monitoring and Research Committee. “The Stickney project achieves these goals and enables us to recover phosphorus and nitrogen from waste streams that can be converted into fertilizer. In addition, the sale of this product will help offset the cost of operating and maintaining the new facility.”
Advising the project team is Dr. James L. Barnard, Water Global Practice and Technology Leader and winner of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize. Known to the water industry as “The Father of Biological Nutrient Removal,” Dr. Barnard is credited with developing the nutrient removal process used in many wastewater treatment plants worldwide.
“Phosphorus is a non-renewable resource that is critical to farming and food production. Nothing grows without it but too much of it can negatively impact water quality,” said Dr. Barnard. “Biological nutrient removal enables us to address water quality challenges and recover this precious nutrient for beneficial reuse purposes.”
“With this new facility, the District is transforming a water challenge into a sustainable solution,” said F. Phillip Abrary, Ostara president and CEO. “Removing nutrients from where they shouldn’t be – in our waterways – and using them to create a new generation of slow-release fertilizers is the smart thing to do economically and the right thing to do environmentally.”
Black & Veatch is providing design, procurement and construction services. Construction of the new stand-alone phosphorus recovery facility will not interrupt the plant’s operations and will connect to the existing treatment plant requiring only short-duration shutdowns of ancillary processes. The new facility is scheduled for completion in 2015.
Ostara will provide the nutrient recovery system, including equipment. Ostara will also provide operations and maintenance assistance to the District once the project is completed. The company will contract with the District to purchase the recovered nutrients, which it markets to commercial fertilizer blenders and distributors in the agriculture, turf and ornamental sectors.
The members of the Water Design-Build Council are at the forefront of the design-build industry and their projects reprepesent some of the most forward-thinking and innovative efforts in the water and wastewater sector. As part of our efforts to provide information on design-build best practices, we're sharing select case studies of member design-build projects with you in our "Project Spotlight" series. This week, learn how AECOM used a two-phase progressive design-build project delivery model to upgrade the water and wastewater treatment plants in the town of Davie, Florida.
At the same time that the Town of Davie was making plans to upgrade its utility systems to accommodate steep increases in demand for both potable water and wastewater treatment capacity, newly created ocean outfall legislature and regulatory pressures resulted in a need for the Town to implement a reuse program (tertiary treatment and high level disinfection).
The Town of Davie needed to upgrade its utility systems to allow for growth anticipated from two major redevelopment initiatives within the Town's utility service area. These developments were projected to create steep increases in demand for both potable water and wastewater treatment capacity. In addition, new ocean outfall legislation resulted in regulatory pressure for the Town to implement a reuse program (tertiary treatment and high level disinfection).
The resulting project, implemented by AECOM, included:
- Public education/outreach, planning, final design, permitting services and construction through a two-phase design-build process including final design of a reuse distribution network
- 6-mgd water treatment plant (expandable to 12-mgd)
- 3.5-mgd water reclamation plant (expandable to 7-mgd)
- Design and Construction valued at $6,150,000 in phase 1 and approximately $102,000,000 in phase 2
- Future design population of 91,000
The Davie project was implemented through a two phase progressive design-build approach. The Phase 1 contract was awarded through a competitive bid process based on qualifications, and a negotiated price. At the conclusion of Phase 1, a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) proposal was presented to the Town for final design and construction services. This was an open book process in which the Town actively participated in the selection of sub-contractors and vendors. The project started in 2009 and is slated to conclude this Fall.
Problem Solving Strategy
The permitting process and sheer number of permits necessary to implement this project in a timely fashion was a significant challenge for AECOM to overcome. To date, there have been approximately 25 permits obtained for Federal, State and Local authorities, excluding the actual building permits.
AECOM assisted the Town in all matters related to land acquisition for the project. The main site for locating the facilities was purchased by the Town from a local university, and the process took more than three years to complete. Remote properties for locating four raw water wells and easements for the associated supply pipelines were also acquired by the Town from adjacent landowners.
Further, the water reclamation facility presented unique challenges of its own, due to restrictions imposed by the relatively small size of the site, and the need for it to be located in close proximity to large reclaimed water users. The extensive stormwater management requirements necessary to adhere to south Florida regulations resulted in the need for underground storage in addition to surface dry retention areas. The combination of facilities, underground utilities, landscaping and stormwater management needs presented a significant challenge to fit on the 14-acre site.
The permitting process was successful due to an interactive approach of managing and tracking each of the various permits. For most permits, a pre-submittal meeting was held with the respective agency to ensure the hot issues were identified and addressed as early on in the overall process as possible. Once permit applications were submitted, AECOM actively pursued quick turn-around and response time from individuals responsible for approvals with each respective agency. This hands-on approach proved successful in obtaining permits to get the project constructed in a timely fashion.
In order to minimize land usage, a high-rate, compact treatment process was selected for both the water treatment and water reclamation facilities, thereby allowing adequate space for construction on the available property. This presented the Town with an opportunity to be amongst the first to employ reverse osmosis technology to treat brackish water from the Floridan Aquifer as an alternate source of potable water. A more complex process, employing raw water wells with the ability to extract brackish water from the Floridan aquifer at a depth of approximately 1,400 feet (as opposed to obtaining fresh water from the Biscayne Aquifer at a depth of roughly 100 – 150 feet), had to be implemented.
Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology was chosen for the water reclamation facility, allowing it to have a smaller footprint and be sited near users in the immediate vicinity, such as golf courses and educational institutions.
What AECOM’s customers have to say about their work
The Town of Davie commits to providing the public with a safe and dependable supply of drinking water as well as providing proper treatment and disposal of wastewater. With upcoming growth (discussed below) expected in the utility service area, the Town must be proactive in constructing facilities to provide water and wastewater treatment to these new users. The Town must expand its utility in conjunction with the planned growth on the horizon.
The Town’s vision is to effectively provide and manage high-quality utility service as well as comply with all water and wastewater regulations. The future of Davie’s water is summed up by the project’s slogan, “Making Davie Clean Through Green“ – Town of Davie Utilities Director, Bruce Taylor
“The future of water conservation is in re-use. The Town of Davie’s new state-of-the-art water reclamation facility currently under construction will do much more than just meet Davie’s growing demands for a clean and dependable source of drinking water. The innovations built into our new facility will position the Town of Davie as an industry leader in water conservation and water reclamation. The result will be a more eco-friendly, efficient use of the Town’s water resources.”
– Susan Starkey
Davie Town Councilmember
Findings from “Unlocking Innovation,” a white paper from Black & Veatch and the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW), reveal that there are five key factors to consider when developing new solutions for complex water issues. Those key issues – education, communication, collaboration, integration and investment – were highlighted in the report, which provides recommendations on how the water industry can unlock innovation to address water challenges around the world.
This is the second white paper produced by Black & Veatch and SIWW. It resulted from 27 roundtable discussions held at the Water Leaders Summit at SIWW in July 2012. These roundtable discussions were led by nine distinguished chairpersons from the water industry. The workshop saw an attendance of nearly 100 water leaders from six continents. Three key recommendations emerged from the workshop:
Educate the public on the true value of water; Connect diverse stakeholders through active collaboration; Drive integration and communication across the water industry’s sectors.
“It is clear that the water industry needs to reframe its thinking and embrace innovation at all levels,” said Cindy Wallis-Lage, President, Black & Veatch’s water business. “To solve our cities’ future water challenges, we need to be smarter about how we create policies and then plan and deliver infrastructure.”
“Adopting win-win collaborations with industry should be the way forward for government agencies looking to becoming more pro-business and service-oriented,” said Chew Men Leong, Chief Executive, PUB Singapore. “The Singapore International Water Week represents an excellent platform for us to seed such partnerships and develop solutions with the global water industry.”
Delegates were invited to share insights on innovation across three areas: Water Policy-Making, Resource Portfolio Planning and Project Delivery.
- Water Policy-Making: Innovative water policies need to address competing stakeholder interests. Innovation risks must be managed while deriving a suitable price that balances basic human rights to access clean water with the realities of costs.
- Resource Portfolio Planning: Resource management can be improved by encouraging innovation in portfolio planning. Utilities are challenged to progress from being merely service providers to progressive business entities that maximize the potential of resources.
- Project Delivery: Innovation in the business, technical and financial aspects of project delivery is vital. This should be done in an affordable manner that balances risks fairly for different stakeholders.
Holistic water policies can be accepted and implemented successfully in the right environment, through effective communication and education around a policy’s broader benefits. Key findings from the discussions include the following:
Consider integrated regional policymaking: Reframe water policies regionally instead of considering them from a national or local perspective. This corresponds with how water availability and its corresponding issues are often regionalized. It can help policymakers derive new ways to manage and approach challenges. By doing this, agencies across regions are empowered to address common challenges together.
Establish collaborative, apolitical advisory panels: Policymakers and industry need to come together on an open platform regularly to enable greater mutual understanding and consultation. Governments should engage industry early in policymaking processes to ensure policy continuity following changes in political leadership. A focus on shorter-cycle issues can also be avoided. This approach builds confidence among industry and the broader investment community.
Adopt broad environmental policies: Implementing broader environmental policies can inspire new ways to adapt to the policies and avoid costs that would have resulted otherwise. The white paper contains successful examples of how environmental policies have increased efficiencies in the water industry.
Collaborate with industry to create opportunities: Industry plays a positive role in driving innovation. Governments and industry must work hand in hand to create innovative solutions during challenging times. Oftentimes, industry can fill the gap where governments struggle. The true value of water is in diversifying the supply of resources to tailor solutions for water challenges in a rapidly changing world.
Communicate the holistic benefits of change, and educate on the value of water:Equal air time should be given to discussing both the cost and the value of water, and this needs to be clearly communicated to the public. Communications need to be two-way, and data provided must be unfiltered and transparent. It is vital for the industry to have one voice on the value of water.
Policymakers and the water industry as a whole must also prioritize education efforts around the value of water. Education is vital now and in the future, where more implementation of decentralized solutions is expected. The more decentralized systems get, the more the public needs to be involved and engaged in the planning and maintenance of these systems.
Resource Portfolio Planning
Resources are constrained. The future ability to continue to meet projected growth in demand will be constrained further. As well as applying best practices and best thinking to this challenge, water utilities and planners must communicate and manage the expectations of both the communities they serve and the communities that enable their operations.
Engage consumers by spotlighting the plan’s benefits, objectives: A conscious effort to make innovation an important and visible part of any resource portfolio plan is vital. Highlighting the innovation and its benefits draws attention to the value and impact of the overall plan. This needs to be effectively communicated to build long-term acceptance of a city’s resource planning. Challenges to acceptance can be overcome by bringing industry, financiers and the public together from planning stages for mutual consultation, understanding and buy-in.
Harmonize efficiency and resiliency in the plan: Best practice resource portfolio planning needs to focus on the resilience and efficiency of the plan. When it comes to planning water resources and sanitation, the industry must find solutions to events deemed “unplannable.” Utilities must be able to supply water and sanitation regardless of changing circumstances, such as climatic shifts or population growth. Efficiency is usually measured as a cost, and resiliency is measured as the ability to deliver services under stress. Both must be balanced.
Coping with unexpected or unmanageable population growth: Rapid population growth creates significant challenges for water resource planning and creates strains on the finite resources when it happens faster than the planned-for city expansion. It calls for greater collaboration between city planners and utility providers. More knowledge sharing within the industry on how to manage existing assets as well as broadening portfolios will also help deal with the pressures of population growth on water resources.
Integrate a business case approach: The industry is seeing a business mindset shift. This is particularly evident in the wastewater sector and includes a greater understanding about the economic benefits of water reuse, nutrient recovery and energy recovery. Municipalities need to have a better understanding of the viability of new approaches to create demand for not only sustainable water but also sustainable energy.
Collaboration creates economy-of-scope opportunities: “Economies of scope” was defined as the need to look holistically at the touch points of water with energy, food and industry. The scope must include local market and community needs, as well as the financial impacts, when assessing resource recovery opportunities. Greater integration of planning, both within the water sector and other related sectors, can create potential economies of scope.
Innovation plays a critical role in how water projects are delivered. Applying new thinking to existing models and structures can help projects overcome challenges that arise from fragmentation of responsibilities, especially on large-scale projects.
Adopt integrated delivery models: Innovative delivery practices, which include private sector financing and transference of risk, must have the right commercial model in place to fund water projects successfully. Projects must be structured to ensure that risk and delivery responsibilities are fair.
The delivery approach dovetails with the resource planning process. It should begin with planning and establishing the framework. This allows both the public and private sector to provide innovative delivery approaches to meet policy goals.
Streamline decision-making with integrated, empowered teams: When responsibility is fragmented within large projects, decision-making can often face serious challenges. Empowered and specially established program management units can play important roles. They can help streamline government decision-making processes on major challenging projects or to execute a complex project more efficiently.
Foster collaboration on large, complex projects: To overcome the complexities of large-scale projects, phase resource needs and deliverables into smaller and more digestible pieces. This can reap a number of benefits, from improved procurement to speed of delivery. Decentralizing projects and phasing them in this manner can also help attract investment.
Communicate responsibilities clearly and appropriately: Complex projects require a collaborative focus. Alignment between the owner and the business partners involved in delivery is vital. Such projects should be structured to hold all parties responsible and accountable, with key performance indicators of each party clearly defined.
Research and determine how best to invest: Project owners need to conduct their own market research and analysis to determine the right financing approach instead of relying solely on industry players. Analysis should look at the delivery models that achieve sustainable objectives for the program. This type of planning allows the public sector to look at the best way to implement project delivery innovation and risk allocation that are required to ensure the success of the program.
This article has been republished with permission by Black & Veatch. To view the original article, visit Black & Veatch's Solutions Magazine.