World’s Second Largest Potable Ultrafiltration Plant Begins Production

Feb. 2, 2006

The quality of drinking water in the Minneapolis area has been significantly enhanced by a new membrane filtration plant now in operation in Columbia Heights, said Minneapolis Water Works (MWW) Interim Director Shahin Rezania. The second largest potable ultrafiltration (UF) plant in the world is now treating and supplying high-quality drinking water to area residents.

“Ultrafiltration was a logical choice for physical pathogen removal and multiple-barrier protection at a reasonable cost,” Rezania said. “Successfully applying a relatively new technology at such a large scale to existing operations presented many challenges, but the collective managerial skills and technical knowledge of everyone involved in this project enabled us to rise to those challenges and ensure the people of Minneapolis and nearby suburbs a continued supply of good quality drinking water well into the future.”

The decision to replace existing granular media filters with UF to further treat lime-softened, clarified, variable-quality water from the Mississippi River was prompted by multiple goals and considerations. These included the need to address future contamination threats, continue to comply with regulatory requirements and replace nearly century-old treatment facilities. The new membrane filtration plant is producing low-turbidity water that exceeds regulatory standards, and it will protect MWW customers from waterborne disease by providing high-log removal of microbial pathogens such as Cryptosporidium.

“Working with a client of this caliber on a project of this significance was very rewarding,” said B&V Water President and CEO Dan McCarthy. “The opportunity to couple global membrane technology experience with specific understanding of local water issues maximizes the value of this project and results in a satisfied client—and ultimately satisfied customers. Working with the MWW to effectively utilize and advance membrane treatment not only benefits area residents but also the water industry as a whole.”

Growing interest in membrane filtration by communities around the world has spawned an increase in not only the number but also the size and sophistication of membrane facilities. With completion of the MWW UF plant, Black & Veatch has provided study, design, construction and startup services for the two largest membrane filtration facilities in the world treating potable water. The award-winning Chestnut Avenue Water Works extension project in Singapore features an immersed membrane system and continues to hold the world record in current operation capacity.

According to Black & Veatch Membrane Practice Leader Jonathan Pressdee, who served as the company’s Columbia Heights project manager, the newly operational MWW plant further establishes membrane filtration as an economically viable technology. In fact, recent Black & Veatch projects in North America have shown membrane filtration to be not only affordable but even lower in cost than traditional filtration processes.

The Columbia Heights UF plant project team incorporated advanced design tools as well as filtration technology in the upgrade of the existing water treatment facilities, using innovative 3-D design, virtual reality software and an effective internet-based communications approach. While the exterior was designed to aesthetically complement the historic existing facilities, the new building houses contemporary control, laboratory and educational facilities as well as 40 UF units supplied by Ionics, Inc. (now part of GE Infrastructure, Water & Process Technologies) and associated storage and feed equipment for membrane cleaning.

Source: Black & Veatch