Design-build key to progressing water projects
Last week, we reported the critical state of water supply and sewerage tunneling projects in Detroit, Michigan and Las Vegas, Nevada. But could adopting the design-build method of procurement help extend a lifeline to projects in jeopardy? With public water authorities in both areas looking to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Plan (ARRP) Bill to inject much needed funding to keep current water projects alive and progressing, a non-profit industry organization in the US is suggesting that design-build procurement is ''the most effective project delivery method for getting these water projects started and completed quickly''.
- In allocating $15 billion to launch, implement and fund more than 2,680 wastewater, drinking water and sewer system projects via the ARRP, Peter W. Tunnicliffe, President of the nonprofit Water Design-Build Council said: ''President Obama and Congressional leaders recognize the urgent need to invest in modernizing America's water system. Projects procured under the design-build model, whereby one firm assumes responsibility for design, construction and commissioning of these project, have been easier to manage, faster to implement and often lower in cost than projects using the more traditional design-bid-build approach''.
- Tunnicliffe explained that design-build delivery is continuing to grow and now represents about 20-30% of all US water and wastewater projects. In recent years legislation has increased the number of water agencies authorized to implement design-build projects. Communities that have recently started or completed design-build projects include Cape Coral, Florida; Carson, California; Detroit, Michigan itself; Erie, Colorado; Fort Myers, Florida; Goodyear, Arizona; Lawrence, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington; and Valdosta, Gorgia. In addition, the US Army Corps of Engineers uses the design-build approach for many of its key projects.
- Water infrastructure investment is expected to be a significant priority for many years. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), estimate a $300-$500 billion funding gap over 20 years between what is needed to upgrade and repair the nation's wastewater infrastructure and what is being spent. According to the Congressional Budget Office, more than 20% of drinking water is lost and 1.2 trillion gallons of storm water and wastewater overflow every year due to leaks and breaks in the 800,000 miles of water pipe and 600,000 miles of sewer lines in the US.
- ''Our water systems are deteriorating rapidly,'' said Tunnicliffe. ''Water main breaks, sewage spills, aging water pipes, and outdated treatment facilities have created serious public health and safety issues in communities across America.'' A statement from the Council reports that, where the ARRP recognizes 2,680 water and wastewater infrastructure projects with an investment of $15 billion, the US Conference of Mayors has identified 4,029 'shovel ready' projects that require an investment of $23.4 billion and could create more than 271,000 jobs in 2009 and 2010. Some of these major projects include:
• $648 million in Atlanta for water treatment plants, flood control, water main and pumping station improvements;
• $511 million in Los Angeles for flood control, water quality and storm water projects;
• $500 million in Austin, Texas, for a stormwater bypass tunnel, water reclamation initiative, water main improvements and other projects;
• $250 million in Philadelphia for citywide water main improvements, sewer rehabilitations, water treatment plant improvements and other projects.
- As a not-for-profit organization, the Water Design-Build Council promotes the delivery process that integrates the design and construction phases in efforts to optimize innovation, speed, quality control, and single-point accountability. Its mission is to promote the best design-build practices to facilitate productive and collaborative relationships between service providers and local governments.
Water Design-Build Council
Detroit outfall DRO-2 terminated -TunnelTalk, April 2009
Upper Rouge River CSO project crippled -TunnelTalk, April 2009
Funding dries up for Nevada's SCOP -TunnelTalk, April 2009
Lake Mead pumping shaft deferred -TunnelTalk, April 2009