City of Houston water plant

Project Description

Name: City of Houston water plant
Location: Houston, TX
Engineering Design Firm: CDM Smith
Construction Inspector: Weston Solutions, Inc.
Construction Manager: AECOM

The Southeast Water Purification Plant Phase I 80 MGD expansion completed in 2011 was the largest city of Houston project undertaken, at $168 million. The capacity expansion was needed not only to increase the water available to the 1.4 million customers in the southeastern portion of Houston and seven adjacent municipalities, but to also satisfy a deadline-driven subsidence district mandate to reduce groundwater use.  Teamwork, coordination, the “unexpected” and innovations were trademarks of this most successful project spanning three years, hurricanes (even snow days in Houston!), and 14 acres.

And it involved 11 stakeholder groups (nearby municipalities, water districts and other cities).

Treatment Module Two included the construction of four new flocculation and sediment basins, seven new filters, blower systems, high service sump station 2,750 horsepower split-case pump and variable frequency drive, transfer and backwash waste pump stations, chemical storage, chemical treatment facilities; installation of an upgraded SCADA system and site security system  and main plant entrance; electrical and instrumentation; 2,100 LF of 96” waterlines; a new 13.4 million gallon precast ground storage tank; two new 100 ft. diameter thickeners; and new sample pump buildings; and modifications to two existing lift stations and the chlorine system. The project was completed ahead of schedule and with $200,000 savings to the owner.


In anticipation of this project, the team initiated meetings with potential project partners. This extended project team among construction firms, engineers, sub-consultants, speciality contractors and the pertinent City department personnel participated in team-building exercises early-on, before any dirt was turned; and met quarterly to identify potential obstacles and discuss remedies. This world-class team proved itself by turning in the project months ahead of schedule!


Early on the project team decided to use a new approach to acquiring equipment. No “just-in-time” method of logistics would suffice. Due to ample storage onsite and an extensive schedule, long lead items were released for fabrication early in the project. City personnel allowed a temporary warehouse facility to be erected onsite equipped with power and rack shelving which the project team used as a warehouse. The project team also used a field onsite for storage of items which could be exposed to the weather.

Quality construction

The project received the Associated Builders and Contractors Certificate of Merit for Excellence in Construction in 2011.

Project Challenges

The major challenge of constructing a plant of this magnitude was to effectively commission all equipment and instrumentation devices. This required a 9-month coordinated effort during which more than 200 pieces of equipment were checked individually and as part of process system. The sub-consultants and vendors working with our team went above and beyond to aid in trouble-shooting and ensured the plant functioned as intended. The team’s start-up coordinator scheduled and coordinated the delivery and receipt of 26 tank loads of treatment chemicals amounting to more than 155,000 Gallons during the three weeks prior to the final acceptance test.

During the three-year schedule many opportunities arose for inclement weather to hamper construction. Tropical Storm Edouard, Hurricane Ike, and several snow days! Despite Mother Nature’s best attempts to delay construction, through the project team’s smooth coordination, this time lost was recouped later in the schedule. This was done by testing equipment without the presence of water. Another critical factor was ensuring plant shut-down’s occurred during the low demand season or during off-peak hours. By working closely with the City’s Department of Water Operations, we ensured the project team’s work was carried out in an efficient manner without creating any instances when the plant was unable to meet its customers’ demands.

On the 3rd of February 2011, Treatment Train Two came online and began delivering water to the citizens of Houston. Following a 30-day acceptance period, the plant was awarded substantial completion, a full two months ahead of schedule.


Laredo Water Treatment Facility

Project Description

Name: Laredo Water Treatment Facility
Location: Larado, TX
Owner: City of Laredo
Architect/Engineer: Carollo Engineers

The only water treatment plant in Laredo, Texas, was built in the middle of the last century. Not surprisingly, dramatic upgrades and capacity expansion were required to accommodate the needs of the rapidly growing city. What’s more, since this was Laredo’s only water treatment facility, it had to remain in service throughout the project. In the end, all key components of the facility have been modernized, successfully expanding capacity to 65 million gallons per day, while ensuring that the plant can operate for many years without additional upgrades or expansions.

A Way Forward

Working with very little documentation of the original 1950s construction, our team completed new installations and modifications to all phases of the plant, including new flocculation basins, larger raw water pipelines and multiple new sand and media filters.


The plant also features a state-of-the-art control system. Operations previously done by hand in the field are now performed from a central control room, allowing the city to cut costs by automating many functions and running more efficiently.

The Power to Deliver

Large backup generators were installed, ensuring continuity of service even in the event of a power failure.


East Water Purification Plant

Project Description

Name: East Water Purification Plant
Location: Houston, TX

Since 1996, our water team has completed more than 20 projects at the East Water Purification Plant in Houston, Texas. Over the years we have expanded capacity and replaced the chemical system. Other projects provided rehabilitations to the plant, stormwater pump station and flocculators; filter media replacement, architectural improvements to buildings and plant-wide instrumentation system, pumps and process equipment upgrades

Arkansas Transfer Pump Station

Project Description

Name: Arkansas Transfer Pump Station
Location: Arlington, TX
Owner: City of Arlington
Architect/Engineer: Freese and Nichols, Inc.

Everyone wants to be prepared in case of an emergency. That’s why the city of Arlington, Texas—the 50th largest city in the U.S. with a steadily increasing population—decided to build a booster pump station capable of transferring drinking water from the city’s lower pressure plane to the upper pressure plane during emergency situations. Built as a supplement to an existing pump station, the work included installation of new vertical turbine pumps, a meter vault, a backup generator, a new pump station and related piping, electrical and instrumentation. The new pump can handle up to 7 million gallons per day, ensuring there will always be enough water to go around.

Keeping Water Running While Transforming Waterworks Plant

Project Description

Name: Keeping Water Running While Transforming Waterworks Plant
Location: Round Rock, TX
Owner:Lower Colorado River Authority
Design Engineer: HDR Engineering

The Brushy Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant project completed in 2009 was a $26M, 10 MGD expansion of an existing wastewater treatment plant near Austin, Texas.
While not unusual to perform a “bypass ” to maintain a water or wastewater treatment plant’s operating capacity while improvements are being made, the Brushy Creek project required one of the longest and largest.  A complete 24/7 bypass operation was required for 2 months.  It consisted of seven 12-inch pumps, capable of bypassing 37 MGD, and more than 1,000 feet of pipe!

Creative Solutions

Our team found creative ways to perform the complex retrofit and rehabilitation of the headworks process and piping, sludge dewatering equipment and piping and the pump station inside, on top of and underneath enclosed masonry buildings to achieve a most successful bypass without any loss of plant capacity.

Modification of Existing Facilities

These included expansion of the influent lift station and screen and grit facility along with new aerations, blower facilities, two 130-foot diameter final clarifiers, new UV disinfection system, new solids dewatering facility with upgraded 3-meter belt filter presses and an odor control system.

Project Challenges

2-Month Bypass – With Full Plant Operational the team planned and supervised the clarified inffluent channel bypass for tie-in of the new UV treatment facility to the plant, all while maintaining full plant capacity.

Harris County Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion

Project Description

Name: Harris County Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion
Location: Bridgeland, Harris County, TX
Owner: The Howard Hughes Corporation
Architect/Engineer: Brown and Gay Engineers, Inc.

Bridgeland is a development of The Howard Hughes Corporation and has been named the nation’s number one master planned community by the National Association of Home Builders. Planned for 65,000+ residents, Bridgeland is currently home to 5,700 residents. Located 27 miles from downtown Houston, its only wastewater treatment facility needed expanding to keep pace with the development’s current population growth rate.

Started in 2012, this expansion project nearly tripled the treatment capacity of the plant when construction concluded in early 2014. Once complete, the expansion facility was turned over to the Harris County Municipal Utility District 418 who owns and operates the plant. 

Hamby Wastewater Treatment Plant

Project Description

Name: Hamby Wastewater Treatment Plant
Location: Abilene, TX
Owner: City of Abilene
Engineer: Enprotec / Hibbs & Todd, Inc.

This ambitious water reuse and improvement project to the Hamby Wastewater Treatment Plant is mitigating severe drought conditions in Abilene, Texas.  Our team partnered with the city of Abilene, now in their 12th year of drought, through a construction manager at risk delivery project to address their local crisis. The city needed a construction manager that could upgrade both major wastewater treatment and advanced water treatment technologies and get the plant fully commissioned in about half the time traditionally required. It’s a challenge the team was eager to take on.

Fort Bend County Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion

Project Description

Name: Fort Bend County Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion
Location: Stafford, TX
Architect/Engineer: Jones & Carter, Inc.
Owner: Fort Bend County WCID No. 2

Fort Bend County’s Wastewater treatment plant needed major upgrades that could increase capacity while still ensuring all wastewater would be converted to safe, non-potable water. The team constructed major upgrades, increasing the station’s pumping capacity to 6 million gallons per day.

69th Street Wastewater Treatment Plant

Project Description

Name: 69th Street Wastewater Treatment Plant
Location: Houston, TX
Time Period: 1993
Cost: $8 Million

Our water team’s very first project in 1993 was at the largest wastewater treatment plant in Houston and in the EPA’s Region VI. The initial $8M project included refurbishing lift station pumps; installing new blowers and junction boxes; and upgrading the PCS and the hydraulic valve system as well as various pumps. Since that time, the team has been back for more than a dozen projects, whose scopes have included an emergency dryer replacement; rehabilitation of and additions to the control system; replacement of 24 dry pit centrifugal wastewater pumps and Eddy Current Clutch Drives and screw conveyors; and improvements to the chemical and sludge processing systems.