Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base WTP (CA)

Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest and the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Design-Build-Operate-MaintainCDM Smith Camp Pendleton WTP

Utility operations at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp’s prime amphibious training base, encompassing 17 miles of coastline— were constrained by an aging water and wastewater infrastructure. These constraints were also affecting the vitally needed resources for more than 60,000 troops and a fluctuating population deployed to the area. In addition, the command center (NAVFAC) was under orders to respond to a court consent decree from the California Department of Public Health to provide a higher quality effluent discharging to the environment and protect human health.

CDM Smith proposed a unique collaboration

Through a competitive bid process, a Design-Build-Operate-Maintain (DBOM) contract was initiated by NAVFAC Southwest in 2003, which included the centerpiece this overall plan, a 5-7.5 MGD Tertiary Wastewater Treatment Plant for the Southern Region (SRWWTP). The two-phase procurement process included a qualifications submittal, followed by a proposal providing preliminary designs, a detailed management approach, and initial project pricing.

In its RFP response, CDM Smith proposed a unique collaborative partnership with the Corps and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest. This approach enabled them to design, build, operate and maintain the overall program – resulting in an enhancement of the operations and reliability capabilities for the water and wastewater system. CDM Smith filled the dual roles of designer and constructor, which as single team created synergy and efficiencies that resulted in the project being completed six weeks ahead of schedule — a critical achievement for a project that was under a consent order.

Flexibility is a benefit of Design Build projects

CDM Camp Pendleton WTPThe design-build delivery method also enabled CDM Smith to respond to NAVFAC’s needs with a level of flexibility that is not possible in the traditional design/bid/build process. The project combined advanced technologies, an accelerated schedule, limitations on construction practices, and site restrictions. Site complexities included a tight footprint next to a Base shopping center in which to construct the plant, a heavily trafficked access road, construction in an ecologically sensitive area, and Base-specific approval and oversight procedures.

Upon completion of construction in August 2006, CDM Smith began operation and maintenance of the SRWWTP. The accomplishment of the Southern Region Wastewater Treatment Plant represents a major step forward for environmental conservation on the southern California coast, with many attendant social and economic benefits. This ongoing $260 million program delivers flexible, reliable, safe and easy-to-operate facilities that achieve rigorous regulatory compliance objectives and creates a cleaner coastal environment. It also includes new recycled water systems. In addition, through effective project team collaboration, an understanding in which to meet stakeholder interests exists while protecting the Base’s endangered species and sensitive habitats.

Also relevant is that, as a MILCON project in support of the “Grow the Force” initiative, this project was a highly visible project on the Base. The wastewater treatment plant, operating for 6 ½ years, is successfully treating the wastewater to below permit limits; and is a ‘first of its kind” at the Marine Corps Base Camp in using the design-build-operate-maintain model.


  • 2007 DBIA (Design-Build Institute of America) Design-Build Excellence Award for SRTTP
  • 2007 CELSOC (Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors) Engineering Excellence Merit Award for SRTTP
  • 2010 APWA (American Public Works Association) Project of the Year Award

CDM Camp Pendleton WTP