April 29, 2010, WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — And the 2010 ACEC Engineering Grand Award goes to … environmental engineering firm Brown and Caldwell, for its $114 million expansion and upgrade of the Littleton-Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant in Englewood, Colo., considered a model for the future.
The “Oscar” was presented April 27 during the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) annual gala, dubbed the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry.” Each year, the ACEC reviews the award winning projects from each state and selects a few for the national Grand Awards. This year, with nearly 170 top projects in the competition, ACEC selected the Littleton-Englewood project as one of the top eight Grand Awards.
“It’s an honor to receive one of these prestigious awards,” says Brown and Caldwell’s Kirk Petrik, who managed the Littleton/Englewood project. “It was truly a team effort from Brown and Caldwell and the staff at the plant that resulted in a highly successful and innovative project that benefits both the environment and the ratepayer.”
In December 2008, the company and plant staff wrapped up its eight-year effort to reduce nitrate levels and expand the facility’s capacity to address growth needs for the next two decades. Petrik led a Brown and Caldwell team that designed and then managed 4 years of construction with Western Summit Constructors as the general contractor. The expansion featured a new patented process that reduces nitrate levels, cost-saving waste-flow recycling and an advanced control system that analyzes plant performance and diagnoses operational problems.
Throughout the project, Brown and Caldwell assisted in negotiating government regulations with the goals of protecting the public and the environment, as well as reducing costs to ratepayers.
“This project positioned the Littleton-Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant for all future regulatory requirements,” says Stewart Fonda, Englewood’s Utilities Director. “It is one of the most advanced facilities in the state and nation. It does a great job in preserving our water quality.”
Design improvements embody environmental stewardship principles while optimizing plant performance and ensuring affordable sewage treatment. The patented, denitrification process simultaneously removes nitrates and performs tertiary water filtration within the process train; the first of its kind individual methanol feeds, in turn, reduce chemical use. Combined with effluent recycling, the process produces a higher quality effluent and will save the plant up to $50,000 in monthly chemical costs.
A new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system fully automates all processes, provides real-time alerts and enables operators to monitor the facility from remote locations, which increases safety. The system accesses more than 2 million pieces of data compared to about 2,500 in the old system.
“We created a superb human-machine interface that could set a new standard for the industry,” says Gary Wyse, the plant’s SCADA administrator. “The depth of information we can get is unbelievable … Operators can access any piece of data or diagnostic immediately.”
The Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant processes wastewater from 22 sanitation districts and serves more than 300,000 residents covering a 100-square-mile area.
When construction began in 2004, the project was the largest of its kind in Colorado. Complex improvements were made to all 11 treatment processes on the 40-acre site, while the facility remained fully operational. Repairs to the facility’s aging infrastructure took place in conjunction with system upgrades, minimizing future capital improvement costs.
The project came in $3 million under budget (due to careful design and construction management, which minimized change orders) and ahead of the state’s compliance schedule. In addition the highly complex project, which required 26 total plant shutdowns, 1100 disruptions to the existing process, and 2678 contractor notifications to construct, was completed without compromising existing treatment (no permit violations), minimal impact to the community along with an exceptional safety record.