WALNUT CREEK, Calif., March 15, 2017 – Brown and Caldwell’s Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion, a 21st-century model of sustainable utility development, has won one of six Gold awards in the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)’s 2017 Engineering Excellence Awards program.
The Gold allows the Chambers Creek project to advance and compete as a finalist in ACEC’s National Awards ceremony in April. Twenty-six projects in Washington State competed for the six Gold awards.
Pierce County Public Works and Utilities (PCPWU)’s Chamber’s Creek project is an impressive plant expansion designed to accommodate substantial population growth, integrate seamlessly into a recreational community, and ultimately protect the delicate waters of the Puget Sound. Facing a projected service population increase of 130 percent over the next 30 years and increasingly stringent water quality regulations, PCPWU needed to significantly upgrade its Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).
Brown and Caldwell, a leading environmental engineering and construction firm, designed and managed the $353 million upgrade, which will increase plant capacity by 50 percent and position Pierce County as one of the first utilities in the country to pilot and install at full scale an innovative sidestream treatment process technology called Annamox DEMON for “shortcut” nitrogen removal.
The process will cut chemical demands by 50 percent, reduce oxygen demands by 25 percent, and significantly decrease the plant’s energy consumption. These upgrades combined will save Pierce County $7 million in life-cycle costs, in addition to the $30 million saved by efficiently re-purposing existing structures.
Located in a 920-acre regional park that includes the Chambers Bay Golf Course, site of the 2015 U.S. Open, the upgrade pioneered a model for successfully developing a plant within a large, publicly-valued recreational property without compromising level of service or negatively impacting the adjacent recreation.
“We realized how quickly Pierce County’s growth was accelerating, but we also had to consider the sensitive environment,” said Jeff Morgan, BC project manager. “We carefully incorporated public feedback and created a buffer between the plant and its surroundings. Combined with our sound knowledge of the Annamox technology, BC pioneered a model WWTP that embodies sustainability.”
Pat McCarthy, former Pierce County Executive while project was being developed, said that she looked forward to the impact the project will have on both the environment and the economy.
“One of my top priorities is creating livable communities, and having a cost effective, environmentally responsible sanitary sewer system is a key part of that mission,” said McCarthy. “The expansion will benefit this growing community for years to come, and the results truly support what it means to have livable communities.”
McCarthy noted that the project was completed with one of the lowest utility rates in the Puget Sound, an achievement that reflects the County’s commitment to engaging with the public to solicit input and generate support for environmentally sustainable growth.
For more information on the Chambers Creek WWTP and Pierce County, visit its site. For more information on the ACEC award, click here.

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