In Wheeling, W.Va., the city’s water treatment plant’s coagulation and filtration surface water treatment equipment was in need of replacement. New rules and regulations enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced an urgency for the updates to ensure the community received drinking water that met requirements.
“The project is important because it allows the city to satisfy customer demand for excellent quality drinking water for the next 20 years while complying with applicable surface water treatment rules,” said Craig Juday, P.E., project manager and vice president for CT Consultants Inc.
Among the challenges in completing the project were equipment selection and procurement, funding a major capital project in a financially strained community, process refinement, maintaining continuous operations during construction, and expanding the facility on a confined site.
Finding the best membrane filtration equipment on a budget that also met West Virginia’s codes meant soliciting prequalified bid proposals from manufacturers. After receiving the bids, the options were evaluated on a present worth basis with a nine-month side-by-side pilot study. The pilot study confirmed the proposed design criteria and O&M requirements leading to a separate equipment procurement agreement.
The greatest challenge, however, was funding the upgrades. Wheeling is a financially strained community, and rate increases can lead to public outcry, including customer protests. These protests can result in a review process through West Virginia’s Public Service Commission (PSC). In the case of the Wheeling plant, this approval process added nine months to the project timeline.
“This agency conducts their own technical plan reviews, cost of service studies, public hearings, etc. and uses their own decision-making process to make determinations on proposed rates and the timeline for implementation,” Juday said. “Any rate increase presents a challenge for customers in a financially strained community such as Wheeling, and although PSC’s involvement added approximately nine months to the overall approval process, their independent validation of rate increases allowed the project to move forward.”
A point of pride for the designers and contractors was keeping additional costs to a minimum.
“One aspect of the $30.5 million project we are most proud of is that it was completed with a minimum of $85,000 of change orders, well below industry standards,” Juday said.
Approval may have been a major hurdle, but so was optimizing the water treatment process. Operators and designers had to learn the new processes before they could optimize them. Determining the chemicals needed and the dosage requirements for coagulation was done through bench testing. Operators also studied the feasibilty of using chloramination as a secondary disinfectant to stabilize disinfection byproduct formation.
Throughout construction and installation of updated equipment, the plant had minimal downtime to ensure service was rarely interrupted for the end user. Limited space to construct a membrane filtration and administration building posed challenges as well, but that ultimately was over come, and the plant has performed as expected since completion.
“We are satisfied that the project resulted in meeting the city’s expectations for an upgraded drinking water treatment facility, which required over 13 years to realize from the initial planning phase,” Juday said.