Hazen/Arcadis-U.S. Joint Venture Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant

Sustaining heavy damage from Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012, the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) in East Rockaway, N.Y., was in need of several short-term quick fixes to get up and running as soon as possible. 

“The Bay Park STP was partially submerged and the major electrical systems, pumping facilities and processes were inundated with salt water from the nearby bay area,” according to the joint venture overseeing the project. This sustained damage caused the plant to halt operations.

The facility’s shutdown was considered a public health emergency because its operation was imperative to prevent sewage from backing up into homes and streets. Immediately following the disaster, Hazen – as well as future joint-venture partner, Arcadis-U.S. of Highlands Ranch, Colo. – assisted critical response teams to get the facility operational. The future joint venture team created an emergency repair program that included a workflow process to track damage assessments, work orders and costs. 

Within two weeks of the disaster occurring, the plant was returned to partial operation by implementing industrial-sized sewage pumps procured from six nearby states, Hazen says. By December 2012, “the repair and recovery team had met all of its milestones for the emergency actions and had successfully restored the Bay Park STP to its full secondary treatment capacity,” asserts Arcadis.

“Significant portions of the facility were completely submerged,” recalls Eric Mills, program controls manager for the Hazen/Arcadis-U.S. joint venture (JV).  “We had to perform several emergency repairs to get the facility operating again.”

In the weeks that followed, the Nassau County, N.Y., Department of Public Works realized that a major revamp was needed to modernize the facility. Built in 1949, the Bay Park STP underwent expansions and upgrades during the 1960s and 1980s. Serving about 550,000 residents, the facility complex consists of about 50 buildings that are spread across a 50-acre area. 

Not only did the department want the facility fully operational, but it needed to include protective features in the design that would prevent this type of damage in a potential future disaster. In fact, to secure FEMA funding, more than half of the project cost must go toward mitigative work, Mills says.

In October 2013, a program management services contract was awarded to the joint venture team of Hazen and Arcadis-U.S. The design/bid/build project is budgeted at $830 million. The multiphase project is expected to be complete in December 2018.

According to Mills, the design phase work consists of sludge thickening upgrades, odor control facility improvements, digester cleaning and repair, influent screening and grit removal upgrades, a perimeter berm, new submersible influent and effluent pumping systems and electrical distribution upgrades. In two phases of construction, five electrical unit substations are being built which includes adding 4.16kV switchgear and transformers, elevating all electrical distribution equipment to the 500-year flood level. The third phase of electrical upgrades is comprised of a new main substation and new underground concrete encased ductbank and cabling to all unit substations. 

As program managers, the JV produced preliminary designs for all upgrades and assisted the county in the procurements and oversight of design consultants that are providing final design services. To expedite the critical perimeter flood protection and electrical upgrade contracts, the JV provided final design documents at the outset of the program.

Design for the Future

Mills says that Hurricane Sandy taught the JV team many lessons on plant design, one of which was using the 500-year flood elevation design as a benchmark for the facility’s infrastructure. Using this calculation, it was determined “that the critical distribution structures [needed to be] elevated to further reduce vulnerabilities and afford resiliency in future storm events,” he says.

Also added to the design was a perimeter flood-protection system that includes an earthen berm and floodwall system. Providing the primary defense against flooding, the floodwall will be 6,700 linear feet long and the berm will be approximately 1,800 linear feet long when completed. 

The system, on average, will be about 10 feet in height above the existing grade. To complete the perimeter, two closure gates on the north and south sides of the plant can be closed and sealed in case of flood, according to Hazen and Sawyer/Arcadis JV sources.

The new perimeter berm and flood wall system will completely isolate the plant, therefore a new stormwater pumping system is required to prevent flooding within the plant from precipitation when the perimeter system is engaged. 

“Two pump stations, on the north and south ends of the facility, will be built to collect stormwater during a storm,” Mills says. “It will then pump the stormwater over the protective berm and into the bay, bypassing the stormwater outfall that is closed during storm surge events.” 

Various cost-saving design measures are being evaluated, such as heat recovery systems and biogas utilization. Energy-saving measures incorporated into new structures include a 3-inch, highly insulated stainless-steel panel system and insulated, low-e coated glazing units. Horizontal sun screens and “white” roofing membranes will reduce solar thermal gain. 

Site Challenges

Site real estate is a particularly daunting challenge to this project. “It’s a rather full facility,” Mills says. “It’s difficult to find the real estate to add upgrades and keep the facility at full operational capacity.” He notes that basically no more than 250 workers can be working in tandem at the site at a given time. Added to that, the program has to share the space with other county public works groups such as road and sewer operations. 

“Although the staging is very complex, we coordinate the contractors’ activities and make the schedule work for all of the parties involved,” Mills asserts. 

Another issue is the community’s push for a quick turnaround of the project. “It’s a very residential area,” Mills says. “We’re addressing the odor-control issues and trying to create a barrier system that won’t alienate the community.”

Individual Expertise

Mills asserts that the Hazen and Sawyer/Arcadis JV was a good pairing for this project.  “The JV firms have more than 40 years of experience with the Bay Park facility and Nassau County DPW at large, and have intimate knowledge of its history, infrastructure and operations,” he says. “Our experience and knowledgeable, skilled staff are the reasons why the facility was able to recover so quickly after Hurricane Sandy.” Thanks to these factors, he adds, the design work for the permanent mitigation and repairs was able to be produced and executed on an expedited schedule.

“No other firms could have produced the preliminary and final designs in such short order,” Mills says. “Since we did most of the upgrades over the last 30 years and the repair work after the storm, we had the institutional knowledge. What we did in six months would have taken any other firms at least a year.”

Mills says that FEMA funding was also integral to the success of this project. “The JV has great expertise in this area,” he adds. “Using knowledge gained in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they understood what mechanisms were available and prepared the applications.”

FEMA is providing funding on a reimbursement program, and the NYS DHSES parcels out funds. “When the contract receives notice to proceed, 50 percent of the project funds is provided to the county,” Mills says. “At the half-way mark, a further 25 percent, then the remaining in smaller allocations as we meet our milestones and complete the project.” This allows the project to proceed more smoothly than when the state and county procure all funds before and during the project, and then waiting for FEMA to reimburse funds. 

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