2010 NCPPP Infrastructure Award
Project Location: Holyoke, Massachusetts
Public Sector Partner: City of Holyoke
Contact Name: William Fuqua, General Superintendent of Public Works; FuquaW@ci.holyoke.ma.us
Private Sector Partner: United Water
Contact Name: Michael Burke, Project Manager; email@example.com
The City of Holyoke, Massachusetts had an old sewer system that was in disrepair and incapable of handling present levels of waste and rainfall. About 66% of Holyoke’s pipeline system collects both wastewater and storm water, which often causes overburdening of the treatment facilities during heavy rainfall. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a consent order to Holyoke that required a reduction in the number of untreated overflows into the Connecticut River to just four per year by September 2004. In order to meet these requirements, the City of Holyoke issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a company that would design and build a new combined sewer overflow facility, upgrade and improve the existing pipelines and treatment facilities, and be able to maintain and operate the City’s water management for the next 20 years. The public-private partnership allowed the City to save about $10 million through the design-build and operations and maintenance costs.
Holyoke had primary goals that needed to be met by companies when it issued requests for proposals in December 2003. The operations and management company must minimize untreated CSOs to comply with the EPA’s administrative consent order by constructing a new abatement facility; make improvements to the collection system and the existing wastewater treatment plant; establish performance and compliance guarantees, including producing effluent that meets the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements and minimizing system odors; and protect the jobs of city employees during the transition from municipal to private operation.
The City of Holyoke, Massachusetts is the public sector partner on this project. The City is situated on the banks of the Connecticut River, and the water system—including using the water for mechanical and electrical energy—was designed in the early 1900s to accommodate many factories in the City. Today the City of Holyoke has about 40,000 residents that needed of an updated sewer and wastewater system that did not empty contaminated water into the Connecticut River.
United Water is the private sector partner on this project. The City selected the United Water proposal based on qualifications, experience, technical merit, net present value, and costs compared to benchmarks and existing internal costs.
Implementation Environment—Legislative and Administrative
This public-private partnership was initiated through the normal procurement process under the state laws of Massachusetts.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ General Laws provide a framework conducive to implementing public-private partnerships. The state requires public-private agreements to be reviewed by a public-private infrastructure oversight commission before being allowed to proceed.
Through the process of contractor selection and contract negotiation, the City of Holyoke maintained the option of having the new CSO abatement facility paid for through the private company with compensation coming through the costs of the operations and maintenance contract. However, after securing a low-interest loan from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Revolving Loan Fund, the City decided to pay the costs of construction with United Water contributing their expertise to the design-build process. The City will repay the loan to the State and pay service fees for operations to United Water. The contributions of private contractor during the process helped the City save about $10 million.
The contract is a 20 year agreement beginning in 2005 that included the design, build, and operation of a new 103 million gallon per day wastewater treatment facility, and upgrading and operating the current wastewater infrastructure.
United Water assumed risk for major maintenance, repair and replacement work, guaranteed a fixed construction price for all design and construction work relating to capital improvements, energy and regulatory compliance.
The City accepted risk for pre-existing site contamination, general inflation, electrical-power unit cost, influent quality and changes in law that affect project finances after the contract was signed. The City retained ownership of all assets not explicitly transferred via the contract.
The contract also called for 14 capital improvement projects worth $6 million. The projects included a new odor control system, a modern pumping system, and a more efficient oxygen dissolution and mixing system. Additionally, the installation a control gate to direct 25 MGD of water away from CSO No. 9 (the discharge pipe causing majority of the permit violations) relieved the CSO-abatement facility and redirected the water to the other upgraded wastewater treatment plant.
Improvement projects specified by the City with the initial request for proposals included replacing or repairing existing Archimedes influent screw pumps; replacing two final-clarifier drives, improving the ton-cylinder chlorine disinfection system; replacing several roofs; improving electrical and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems; and repairing collection pump stations. Other project improvements planned by the team were replacing pressure swing absorption, pure-oxygen generation system with a proprietary in situ oxygenation system, installing biofilters to control odors, adding a rotary-drum thickener to thicken waste activated sludge, installing chemical feed systems, and upgrading the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.
The new combined sewer overflow abatement facility is activated during heavy rainfall to treat combined sewer overflows. The water is treated using a combination of processes including screening, grit removal, disinfection, and dechlorination. Between 2007 and 2010, the facility captured over 800 million gallons of water from 201 overflow events. The new combined overflow facility, the upgraded treatment plant, and new pipelines have reduced the overflow into the river by up to 250 million gallons. This is a reduction of 92% in untreated discharges.
Methods for Overcoming Impediments
Within the first few weeks of the new operations and maintenance contract, two of three Archimedes influent screw pumps failed, leaving Holyoke with only enough capacity to handle a small rain event. Two centrifugal diesel pumps were rented and installed, and they remained in service for about 12 months while the team completed upgrades. The new influent pump station would utilize six submersible centrifugal pumps instead of Archimedes screws, which required much more labor for installation and upkeep.
The construction site for the new facility required dewatering because the hole needed to be about 43 feet deep and the site was on an old lake bed, which still flowed about 10 feet below ground. 25 groundwater wells were installed and pumped the water through the treatment plant to decontaminate it before being released into the Connecticut River.
Key Points of Success or Failure
The public-private partnership between the City of Holyoke and United Water achieved several successes during the initial contract implementation. The new $18 million abatement facility was completed 1 year ahead of schedule and with a savings of $10 million, even after delays in land acquisition for the new structure. The structure itself is more environmentally friendly than other models because its siphon piping is estimated to reduce electrical usage by 37.5 kW per pump. The facility itself has reduced the number of discharges into the Connecticut River by at least 60% contributing to improved river quality as mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.