file under: Design-Build, Government, North America, Water, United States

Water + Design-Build

Channeling Collaboration for a Historic Harbor Community

Design-build delivers collaborative success

September 04, 2015

Stonington is a historic and scenic Connecticut town that encompasses three villages, Stonington Borough, Mystic and Pawcatuck. Each operates its own wastewater collection system and treatment plant, collectively owned by the Stonington Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA). The WPCA faced challenges including dated technology, odor-control, state regulations on nitrogen levels in effluent, and increasing flows reaching capacity at the aging facilities. Because the town's popularity as a tourist destination placed limitations on the potential solutions, the course to successful upgrades was tricky. CDM Smith helped Stonington upgrade its aging wastewater treatment infrastructure using a design-build approach.

 
By building relationships on trust and collaboration, we were able to think big and find a way to conquer our problems through design-build delivery. 

Stonington’s thriving tourism industry allowed no leeway for system interruptions or plant expansion. The Mystic facility is located in the midst of attractions including popular storefronts like Mystic Pizza, and the marinas of Mystic Harbor. Adding to the challenge, the Mystic facility required a full upgrade to keep pace with the community's growth. The CDM Smith team's implementation of the innovative biological process technology BioMag, new to the U.S. market, meant the facility could use smaller, less costly clarifiers—delivering the performance that was needed within the space and budget allowed. Active collaboration between CDM Smith designers and builders, WPCA staff, operators and vendors made the implementation of this new technology work effectively.

CDM Smith encouraged community involvement in the project by bringing design-build experts to discuss best practices and engaging residents at monthly authority meetings that were open to the public. Ultimately, the community voted in favor of design-build delivery. This approach provided a collaborative foundation for stakeholders, engineers, contractors, and owners, which carried through to completion of the project. Stonington WPCA chairman James Sisk said, “By building relationships on trust and collaboration, we were able to think big and find a way to conquer our problems through design-build delivery.”

Upgrades to all three wastewater facilities were completed while maintaining daily operations during construction—even throughout the busy summer tourist months. Although the path to implementation was often complex, the team worked together to solve every challenge as it arose and keep the project on course to a successful finish. The system upgrades were formally completed in the winter of 2014, finishing on time and $1 million under budget.