Desalting The Taunton River

By Paul Fournier | September 28, 2010

New England's first desalination plant is under construction in N. Dighton, Mass., to help alleviate drinking water shortages in Brockton and other southeastern Massachusetts communities.

The Taunton River Desalination Plant is being developed and built by InimaUSA Corp. for Aquaria Water LLC, which is owned by Bluestone Energy Services Corp. and InimaUSA Corp., a subsidiary of Inima S.A. of Spain.

Designed by consultant Metcalf & Eddy of Wakefield, Mass., the plant will employ a combination of ultrafiltration membranes and reverse osmosis to treat brackish water from the tidally influenced river.

With an initial capacity of 3.2 million gallons per day (MGD), expandable to 5 MGD, the facility will rely on a low-pressure ultrafiltration Zee-Weed system manufactured by Zenon Environmental to provide primary treatment during periods of low salinity. In summer and fall, when river salinity is higher, the plant's reverse osmosis system will add further treatment to remove the salt.

Total construction cost for the plant is estimated at $50 million. The entire project consists of a process building, a pump station, an intake structure, three storage tanks, and a 16-mile, 20-inch ductile iron pipeline to convey treated water to the city of Brockton.

R. Zoppo Corp. of Stoughton, Mass., has been selected for civil, structure and site construction at the plant, with subcontractor Francis Harvey & Sons Inc. of Worcester handling all concrete forming and placement for the river intake structure, pump house and plant proper with its battery of 20-foot-deep concrete processing tanks. P. Gioioso & Sons Inc. of Hyde Park (Boston) won the pipeline contract, while Natgun Corp. of Wakefield, Mass., has been selected to build three precast prestressed concrete storage tanks with total capacities of nearly six million gallons. The largest tank is approximately 50 feet tall, with a diameter of roughly 110 feet.

Work got under way in May 2006, with the clearing for an access road by Letourneau Products Manufacturing Corp. of Freetown, Mass., and subsequent clearing of the plant site by Pelletier Logging of New Ipswich, N.H. Subcontractor Fall River Electrical Associates set up the temporary power at the site and is providing all electrical work for the plant. In addition, mechanical subcontractor Hart Engineering Corp. of Cumberland, R.I., is responsible for installing process piping and equipment.

By December 2006, process tanks had been constructed and construction of the plant building was taking place. The pipeline project hadn't started yet, and Natgun was scheduled to begin construction of the storage tanks in spring 2007.

The region's first desalination plant is expected to be operating in spring 2008.

(Key personnel for plant construction include, for Aquaria Water LLC., Alfredo Andres, general manager; for InimaUSA Corp., Patrick Williamson, project manager, Sean Munnelly, project superintendent, Ben Losordo, project engineer; and for Metcalf & Eddy, Scott Wilson, resident engineer.)