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Partnering with Houston for the Largest Progressive DB Project

city of houston Houston, texas, usa
The city of Houston is expanding its Northeast water purifi­ca­tion plant from 80 million gallons per day (mgd) to 400 mgd, dramat­i­cally increasing its ability to support steady residential and commercial growth while reducing dependency on groundwater. 

The city of Houston, Texas, in association with four regional water authorities, is expanding its Northeast water purifi­ca­tion plant (NEWPP) from 80 million gallons per day (mgd) to 400 mgd, dramat­i­cally increasing its ability to support steady residential and commercial growth while reducing dependency on groundwater. The Houston Waterworks Team, a joint venture between CDM Smith and Jacobs, is delivering this $1.77B project in partnership with the city and the four authorities. The NEWPP project is the largest progressive design-build project of its kind presently underway in the United States, and construc­tion on the 90-acre site is now underway.

Leading Water Supply Innovation
As part of the expansion, the Houston Waterworks Team is designing and construct­ing a new raw water facility, including intake, pumping and conveyance to withdraw raw water from Lake Houston and deliver it about 1.5 miles away to the expanded NEWPP. The raw water from Lake Houston is challenging to treat because it is “flashy,” meaning the water quality char­ac­ter­is­tics vary widely due in part to the lake’s shallowness. During rain events, the turbidity, organics and alkalinity of the water change drastically. These changes make the water difficult to treat with a single treatment process alone. To address these challenges while meeting the city’s goals, the team is delivering significant water supply innovation.

3D Flyover of the NEWPP Expansion Project

When complete, this project will greatly enhance the ability of greater Houston to grow and thrive.

“To help the city nimbly adapt to the variable raw water conditions, the team developed two basic recipes for water treatment, a wet-weather recipe and a dry-weather recipe, which the city can switch between as needed,” says Randy Rogers, CDM Smith senior vice president and the project’s engineering manager. “We are bringing to bear innovative treatment strategies like chlorine dioxide, ozonation and biological filtration, which have been proven at other Texas facilities using similar source waters. We are helping the city to deliver much larger production rates for its customers, and even given a broad range of raw water qualities, preserving high-quality finished water.”
The NEWPP expansion is required to comply with subsidence district rules for conversion from groundwater to surface water supply.  Features of the project include the design, construc­tion and commis­sion­ing of an intake pump station, twin 108-inch trans­mis­sion mains, pre- and post-treatment chemical addition, floc­cu­la­tion and sedi­men­ta­tion basins, ozone treatment, filtration, finished water storage tanks, and a high service pumping station.
We're helping the city to deliver much larger production rates and preserving high-quality finished water, despite a broad range of raw water quality issues.
randy rogers, Engineering manager

Design-Build Collab­o­ra­tion is Driving Success
The project will be implemented in phases, with the first phase increasing the capacity of the NEWPP from the present 80 mgd to 160 mgd by 2021, and the second phase increasing the overall facility production capacity to 400 mgd by 2024. The NEWPP expansion will more than quadruple the city’s ability to deliver water to its customers. Through progressive design-build delivery, groundbreaking occurred in January 2018, and construction activities are now underway with the project reaching the 30% design milestone.
Achieving the city’s goals for rapid water supply growth with an ambitious schedule will require extensive collaboration between all players involved in the project, which made this project ideal for a progressive design-build approach. “We’re working together to make this effort successful,” says project manager Randy Rogers. “In our Collaboration Center, we have members of the Houston Waterworks Team, staff from the city of Houston and their advisors, representatives of the regional authorities and their advisors—all together under one roof. Every time we modify or progress the design, our constructors provide input and give us feedback on the cost and schedule impacts. Our experts are constantly trading ideas and finding ways to improve the design. Working with each other and with the city, we can deliver all the benefits of design-build and make the city’s vision a reality.”

Susan Crawford Susan Crawford
This exciting and complex project will help greater Houston meet its future drinking water needs.

By the Numbers

Given its size, the project entails notable quantities and firsts, including: over 1 million cubic yards of earthwork; 200,000 cubic yards of structural concrete; 4 million construc­tion man-hours with zero lost-time accidents; 1,400 created jobs; and the largest instal­la­tion of 40-inch diameter dual purpose centrifuges at any water treatment plant in the United States. 

News Item
In the News
The Houston project team talks "leaving a legacy" and the secrets to success in a recent Engineering News Record (ENR) article.
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Houston Interns Houston Interns
An Invaluable Intern Experience in Houston
Student interns were afforded the unique opportunity to work with industry experts on the largest progressive design-build project in the U.S. water sector.

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