Project Will Stabilize Water Pressure

By Aram Kalousdian, Editor | September 28, 2010

A project involving the construction of two 1-million-gallon elevated storage tanks, two water-pumping booster stations (an approximately 7,000-gallon-per-minute booster station and a 4,000-gallon-per-minute booster station), and the installation of water main to serve the Lake Michigan Shoreline Water & Sewage Treatment Authority service area in Western Michigan is currently under way. Authority members include the townships of Lincoln, Royalton and St. Joseph, and the villages of Shoreham and Stevensville. All of these communities receive water from the city of St. Joseph water treatment facility.

This project fulfills the obligations of the 2003 Water Service Agreement between the city and Authority to place at least one adequately sized water tower within the Authority service area.

Construction on the approximately $6.2-million project began in April and it is expected to be completed by August 2008.

"There are some pressure problems in the existing system, because there is no elevated storage in the Lake Michigan Shoreline Water & Sewage Treatment Authority system. This will help stabilize pressures within the Authority service area. It will also provide additional storage for the Authority in the overall system," Alan Smaka, project engineer for Wightman & Associates, Inc., of Benton Harbor said. Wightman & Associates, Inc. is the consulting firm overseeing design and construction of the project.

Smaka explained that there were some valves that weren't working in the existing distribution system. "We had to put in 24-inch line stops. One of the water mains we cut into was a 24-inch transmission water main," Smaka said. He explained that they would've needed to take a large amount of water main out of service in order to get that section of water main isolated. There was a lot of water that would've had to have been drained from that water main.

"Instead of doing that, they inserted line stops, which is an in situ technology where they mount a casing around the existing water main and they insert a wedge that expands within the water main and creates a watertight seal," Smaka said. He said that this was done so that the water main could be shut down in order to install new valves and connections that would feed one of the booster stations. Smaka said that some shutdowns were done at night.

"The contractor has been very accommodating at doing work early or late in the days in order to disturb as few people as possible," Smaka said. Southwest Transport Company, of Hartford, is installing the water main, pressure reducing valves and isolation valves that will be used by the booster stations and elevated storage tanks.

Pearson Construction Company, Inc., of Benton Harbor, is constructing the booster stations and installing a control system for the entire system. Caldwell Tanks, Inc., of Louisville, Ky., is constructing the elevated storage tanks.

Smaka said that a radio telemetry control system is being installed on the project. The system uses radio signals to communicate between the various facilities in the system, instead of telephone lines. Smaka explained that because the Authority has multiple sites, this saves money over telephone bills.

"The storage tank sends signals to the booster stations, which also get controlled by the water treatment plant. You need to transmit that signal from site to site. You can do that with a telephone line, or what's emerging now is radio signals. This hasn't been used yet in this system and this was something we had to coordinate into the project. Currently, the systems operate manually and we're trying to automate our portion of it. We're also dealing with a treatment plant that is run manually," Smaka said.

The project includes approximately 1,075 feet of 24-inch ductile iron water main; 2,415 feet of 16-inch ductile iron water main; approximately 400 feet of 12-inch ductile iron water main; 13,000 pounds of compact ductile iron fitting; 90 feet of 30-inch steel casing bored and jacked; three pressure reducing valves; and two isolation valves. The project also included the installation of three 24-inch gate valves; one 20-inch gate valve; 11 16-inch gate valves; and six 12-inch gate valves.

The project includes implementation of the Constant Chlor briquette chlorination system at the pumping stations. "In the design phase, they were unsure if this would be used for continuous chlorination or just for emergencies. This briquette chlorination system allows you to turn it off and on when you need it. This is in a few communities but it's not widespread," Smaka said.

Currently, the water is chlorinated at the water treatment plant only. This will provide another area for the Authority to chlorinate the water. "What we're doing on the project is creating two pressure zones. Right now it's all one system. We are isolating the Authority system from the city of St. Joseph system. The booster stations will be the only points where the water will come from the city system into the Authority system. Once it goes through the booster stations, it won't go back into the city of St. Joseph system. The pressures in the Authority's system will be higher and the city of St. Joseph will be able to lower its pressure a little," Smaka said.

Southwest Transport Company has used the open cut method to install the water main. They've used a Cat 320 excavator, a Cat 330 excavator, a Cat 950F wheel loader, a Cat 928G wheel loader, a Cat 416 backhoe loader, a Cat D5C dozer, and a Cat 257 track machine.

"We're a growing company and we have three crews. When there isn't enough equipment to go around, that's when we rent. When we decide that we've rented the equipment long enough and that we're going to keep it busy, then we purchase it. We finance all of the equipment we purchase," Steve Buchholz, project manager for Southwest Transport Company, said. Buchholz said that Southwest Transport Company purchases new and used equipment. He said that leasing to purchase has worked well for them.

"We lease or rent for the specific job and at the end of that job, if we decide that there will be a need for that piece of equipment, then we will decide whether or not to purchase it," Buchholz said.

Pearson Construction Company Inc.'s subcontractors on the project include FHC, of Grand Rapids (mechanicals); West Michigan Instrumentation, of Nunica (controls and instrumentation); and Beaudoin Electric.