Buchart Horn Inc. expands plant for Columbia Water Co.
The American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania (ACEC/PA) presented a Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence – Water Resources to Buchart Horn Inc. in recognition of firm’s leadership on the recently completed Walnut Street Water Treatment Plant Expansion for the Columbia Water Co.
Diamond Awards recognize Pennsylvania engineering firms for projects that demonstrate a high degree of achievement, value and innovation, according to ACEC/PA.
Walnut Street Water Treatment Plant’s three-year, multiphase project provided new filtration and treatment processes and equipment to increase capacity now and in the future. Plant design and technological upgrades were developed so that the plant could continue to operate through a flood event without any impact to the quality of water produced.
For Columbia Water Co. customers, the new technology and related automation “creates the most stringent safeguards to ensure that every drop of water that leaves our facility is of the highest quality,” said David Lewis, P.E., Columbia Water Co. vice president and general manager. For the company itself, the project delivers improved quality control, greater efficiencies and a safer environment for its associates.
In 2010, Columbia Water Co. approached Buchart Horn to update its facilities, incorporate newer technology, enable the company to expand the capacity of the plant, “and do all that while allowing us to continue to produce treated water at the site – which required careful planning to accomplish successfully,” Lewis said.
The project was challenging for a number of additional reasons, as well. The water treatment facility is located in a flood plain on a compact site bounded by the river and a railroad. Moreover, the facility contains historic buildings. “Working within the historic buildings was a real challenge,” said Dan Cargnel, P.E., senior staff engineer at Buchart Horn and project designer.
The finished project is a reflection of experience, planning, and patience.
To minimize the impact of rising water and floating ice, equipment was relocated above the flood elevation and a reinforced ice wall now provides greater protection from damaging ice floes. Flood barriers were employed in areas where chemical storage tanks had to be located on ground level.
The plan reused existing structures wherever practical and cost-effective, which eliminated the need for additional land for the upgrade. Further, because the water plant is in the Borough of Columbia’s Historic District, the design had to meet the Borough’s Historic District Ordinance. Buchart Horn integrated new structures with existing buildings, and used brick corbelling, brick arch openings, copper flashing, and simulated slate roofing to preserve and complement the character of the historic water plant. In the end, Buchart Horn’s design exceeded Historic District requirements.
“Although we used fairly well-established processing technologies, they are married by current and cutting-edge communication technology,” Lewis said. “So we are now able to gather a lot more information. We’re aware of changing water conditions more quickly and are able to make adjustments faster, which gives us better control over our product and makes us more efficient with our time.”