Delivering water in the desert

January 4, 2023 | Kieways 2022 Q4

In 2018, drought, heat and rapid population growth created a perfect storm for the city of Buckeye, Arizona. This growing community, located 33 miles west of Phoenix, faced serious challenges with its water infrastructure. The city chose to invest in the most significant capital project in its history in order to expand water production capacity and address critical water needs — and to do it now.

As a small municipality, this was a significant undertaking. Buckeye’s leaders looked to Kiewit, knowing it could get the job done right, fast, efficiently and within budget. To help manage the project, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. worked with joint-venture partner Haydon Building Corp., to repair and expand one of the city’s water treatment plants.

Operating on an accelerated schedule and within budget constraints, Kiewit worked closely with the city to package scopes of work and strategically sequence them so that top priority repairs were made first. Long-term solutions were engineered simultaneously — allowing the project to continue moving forward.

Kiewit Project Manager Gabriel Gaytan explained: “The project was not as simple as building a new treatment plant from the ground up. We had to first address an emergency situation where they had limited reliable storage and insufficient water supply. We found a way to use part of the Jackie A. Meck campus to address these challenges while the rest of the project was still being designed.”

Taking a different approach

The initial priority was the design and construction of new production wells, a water storage tank and approximately 4 miles of new conveyance pipeline between the new wells and the new storage facility.

The original storage tank was deteriorating and system capacity had been maxed out. This reservoir could hold only 1 million gallons and was in disrepair. Most importantly, it did not have enough capacity to support the community’s needs, posing a risk in the summer months when water usage significantly increases.

Within 12 months of breaking ground, Kiewit had upgraded water storage capacity by installing a 4-million-gallon cast-in-place concrete storage reservoir and tying it into the existing system.

“Putting the reservoir on its own design and construction path was not the optimal way to build the water campus, but it helped the city get its old reservoir replaced sooner with no wasted cost on a temporary solution,” said Gaytan.

Collaboration & flexibility

While emergency repairs were being made, the project team worked on delivering the master plan for a new water campus with a treatment facility built to 6 million gallons per day (MGD) with the potential for future expansion. Building the new facility, the Jackie A. Meck Water Campus, required an integrated team working closely with the city to account for water quality targets while staying within the city’s budget.

Through a series of high-level collaborative meetings, Kiewit provided a series of value engineering options, which resulted in approximately $11 million in savings.

Kiewit performed all major construction operations on the campus, including civil, grading, utility, concrete, mechanical, startup and commissioning. In April 2022, the team handed over control of a new regional water campus and associated distribution systems to the City of Buckeye, vastly upgrading its water infrastructure.

“The fact that a project of this size came in under budget and ahead of schedule speaks volumes to the partnership between the city of Buckeye and Kiewit, and we look forward to working with them again,” said Buckeye Mayor Eric Orsborn.

Led by Kiewit, the team delivers

“One of things that made this job successful was having a strong partnership with the city of Buckeye. The progressive design-build model allowed Kiewit to get involved early and provide real solutions to the predicament they were in,” said Kiewit Project Sponsor Jake Krause.

Kiewit pulled resources from the broader southwest and California regions to get the job done. “What was critical for us in working through issues was calling on the expertise and experience of other Kiewit teams well-versed in the type of water treatment process, civil concrete and mechanical systems and more,” said Krause. “These teams coming together created the well-rounded unit we needed to be successful.”

Upon project completion in spring 2022, the project team delivered under budget and ahead of schedule a service area master plan, which included a 6 MGD water treatment facility, new wells, re-drilling existing wells, offsite and onsite piping, water storage tanks, booster pumps, hydro-pneumatic tanks, arsenic treatment, reverse osmosis treatment, chlorination facilities and more.

The new water facility is now meeting critical needs for the city, and has been tied in with four other water treatment plants to deliver water to the broader region.

“The Jackie A. Meck Water Campus is a major milestone for Buckeye and an important component of the city’s water portfolio. With the ability to treat up to 6 MGD of water and expand to 16 MGD, the facility keeps Buckeye ahead of the fast-paced growth we’ve been experiencing over the last decade. As the largest and most expensive facility of its kind in Buckeye, Kiewit was there every step of the way with the expertise to get the job done,” said Orsborn.

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