Integrated Master Planning - Resiliency, Reliability and Robustness by Design

Authors:

  • Anni Luck PE, Sandeep Mehrotra PE - Hazen and Sawyer
  • Pinar Balci PhD - New York City Department of Environmental Protection
  • Thomas J. Lauro PE - Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities

Water system operation and management has dramatically changed over the last decade. Master plans are not only defining the depth and breadth of capital improvements, these plans are evaluating opportunities for sound business decisions and the flexibility to face an uncertain future. As such, more so than ever, transparent and collaborative processes are critical to developing an Integrated Master Plan that evaluates sustainable treatment solutions, leverages existing engineering and planning efforts, and identifies applicable goals, risks, and drivers to plan a forward-thinking and flexible vision of the future.

Of the many facets of master planning, two priorities have recently risen to the top of the list: 1) Asset Management, and 2) Climate Change Resiliency. This paper will highlight the use of a transparent and collaborative risk-management framework that seamlessly integrates these two priorities into a master plan that promotes resiliency, reliability and robustness by design. This framework and collaborative process was successfully implemented for both the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) and Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities (WCDEF).

Among the many manifestations of climate change, it is virtually certain that sea levels will continue to rise for many centuries. The legitimacy of this risk was made crystal clear when Hurricane Sandy hit the New York Metropolitan Area in October 2012. Ensuing floods affected 10 of New York City’s 14 wastewater treatment plants and 42 of its 96 pumping stations, crippled wastewater service to millions of area residents, and caused the discharge of untreated sewage into local waterways, resulting in over $95 million in damage to NYC’s system alone. In response, the NYCDEP expanded a pilot vulnerability study to include its entire wastewater system, mobilizing a team of engineers on an accelerated schedule. Soon after, the WCDEF undertook a study of its own 7 treatment plants, 2 overflow retention facilities, and 31 of its 42 pumping stations.

The results from these studies provided sound business case justification for capital resiliency improvements and served as a roadmap for integrated master planning across NYCDEP and WCDEF facilities to incorporate resiliency measures into an asset management program to maximize critical asset projection, minimize system failures, and inform emergency action plans and design guidelines for reliable, resilient and robust capital improvements.

This presentation discusses the results of these case studies and their unique risk management framework encompassing the analysis of climatic data to establish site-specific design flood elevations, the assessment of flood pathways and vulnerabilities for thousands of assets, business case prioritization for asset protection, development of resiliency guidelines, and the recommendation of adaptation measures based on a triple-bottom-line approach to account for feasibility, costs of implementation, criticality of equipment being protected, grant funding, environmental, community, and water supply and quality considerations. The case studies and framework presented can serve as a prototype for other municipalities and stakeholders to inform their own asset management programs.

For more information, please contact the author at aluck@hazenandsawyer.com.

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