Serving a population of nearly 90,000, the Santa Monica Water Treatment Plant and the city’s Charnock Well Field stand as examples of the issue faced by many utilities throughout the United States—limited fresh water supplies, mixed and/or emerging contaminants, and tighter regulations.
After more than a decade with the Charnock Well Field closed due to contamination from MTBE (a gasoline additive), the City reached a settlement agreement with the three major oil companies, whose leaking underground storage tanks caused the contamination. The settlements would fund a restoration project on the facilities. On the heels of the lengthy settlement process, Santa Monica faced an urgent need to move toward water self-sufficiency.
Drought limited the volume of water that could be delivered to Southern California from the state water project. Using the city’s groundwater wells is a sustainable way to provide water, and this project was on the fast track. In deciding to use progressive design-build delivery for this project, the City selected the design-builder based both on qualifications and approach to problem-solving, with an open-book cost estimate for construction to be made during the 30 percent to 60 percent phase of design.
Black & Veatch’s approach to progressive design-build enabled city leaders to successfully navigate numerous emerging issues. As the City began to develop a project procurement plan, restrictions on importing water to Southern California were being considered and/or implemented. Therefore, it became urgent for the City to quickly restore its sustainable groundwater supply.
The City’s decision to use progressive design-build for the water-treatment infrastructure offered flexibility in implementing a technical solution in a complex regulatory setting. It also allowed the City to pursue a model of competitive pricing with an aggressive schedule. The progressive design-build approach further allowed the City to obtain approval of a treatment facility to remove a mixture of water quality contaminants, which requires more time, communication, planning, and collaboration among the owner, the design-builder, and regulatory agencies.
The project incorporated a 3,750-gpm wellhead treatment plant for MTBE and TBA removal at the Charnock Well Field; and a 7,000-gpm treatment plant at the SMWTP site for softening and removal of radionuclide, iron, manganese, and volatile organics.
With the City and Black & Veatch working collaboratively to provide rapid response at all levels to expedite restoration of the well field, the progressive design-build approach made it possible to meet a 20-month project schedule. In December 2010, the City restored its valuable groundwater supply with the successful startup of the Charnock Well Field Restoration Project. The City now produces 70 percent of its water supply needs and is moving toward its 2020 goal of 100 percent self-sufficiency.