Keeping it Simple through Collaboration: A Fast-Track and Cost Effective Utility Upgrade


  • Aaron Duke - Hazen and Sawyer

Water utilities across the country are still feeling the budget crunch from reduced water revenues. While some areas of the county are improving, many locations continue to have slow housing markets, resulting in minimal connection fees and small CIPs. While utilities cannot control the need to perform maintenance and/or implement improvements projects, they can control the cost of the cost of these projects. This paper presents an example of the level of cost savings that can be achieved when an owner and engineer utilize a collaborative design, procurement and construction process.

Loudoun Water purchased the water supply and treatment assets from another utility for $30 million, including a 1 BG reservoir and dam, raw water pump station, an 18 MGD treatment plant and a finished water transmission main. This utility, which previously served Loudoun Water with drinking water, had identified numerous required improvements at the water plant that were estimated to cost $16.8 million. In addition to addressing these previously identified issues, Loudoun Water needed to integrate the new assets into their system, and ensure that the facilities complied with all regulations and Loudoun Water policies and standards. This included converting from gaseous chlorine to sodium hypochlorite for primary disinfection and chloramines for secondary disinfection. The rehabilitated plant needed to be on-line within three months of purchase to ensure the capacity was available to Loudoun Water when demands began to increase. An internal working group, consisting of representatives from all utility business units and an outside consultant, was convened to identify how to implement the necessary improvements cost effectively and within the time frame required.

The presentation will identify how the collaborative process worked to ensure all business unit concerns were heard and addressed, and how the consultant and owner worked as a true collaborative team to design cost effective improvements that could be implemented quickly. For example, the improvements were completed using in-house staff to save cost as well as expedite the procurement and installation of materials. These included skid-style chemical feed systems and other pre-engineered components. The procurement staff was leaned on heavily and collaborated with engineering, maintenance and treatment operations groups to purchase equipment and chemicals, and to secure needed service contracts. The team worked hard and completed the work within two months and for only $1.2 million, which represents an approximate savings of over $15.5 million compared to the previous PER.

Audience members will gain an appreciation and understanding of what they could do at their utility if they empower their staff to think creatively and their engineer works collaboratively with the Owner.

For more information, please contact the author at

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Horizons showcases significant water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater projects and innovations that help our clients to achieve their goals, and can help you achieve yours. Articles are written by top engineers and process group leaders, demonstrating and explaining the beneficial application of a variety of technologies and tools.

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