Pepper-Lawson Construction – Missouri City

A surface water treatment plant slated for completion by the end of 2011 is a major component of one Texas municipality’s long-term efforts to secure a steady water supply. Contractor Pepper-Lawson Construction broke ground on the $27 million plant in 2010, part of Missouri City, Texas’ overall $53 million surface water treatment and distribution program. The program is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the city.

“Water drives development, it drives the future of the city, so that $53 million investment in the development of the site and the plant itself is probably the most expensive thing we’ve ever done and it’s probably the most important thing we’ve ever done,” Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen said in a statement.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city has a population of 68,447, an increase of more than 15,000 people since 2000. The municipality projects a population of just more than 80,000 in 2015.

The plant, expected to go into operation next year, will have an initial capacity of 10 million gallons a day, which will increase to 21 million gallons in 2017 and later to 33 million gallons to address population increases, says Enprotec/Hibbs and Todd Engineers of Abilene, Texas, the consulting engineers on the project.

Meeting Rising Demands

The new plant will process surface water as opposed to ground water. The plant will meet regulations imposed by the Fort Bend County Subsidence District, which oversees water use in the city.

The county mandates that groundwater withdrawals constitute no more than 70 percent of the city’s total water demand before 2013. That number will decrease to no more than 40 percent by January 2025, the engineer says.

Surface water from the Brazos River will pass through two reservoirs into a pumping station, where an oxidant and coagulant will be applied before the water undergoes flocculation and sedimentation processes. Water then passes through a state-of-the-art filtration process, which includes removing dirt and disinfecting the water before sending it to the city and other area utility districts.

The quality of the refined water is expected to exceed that of groundwater residents now drink, the city says.

The plant will be funded through user fees generated from a number of municipal utility districts and homeowners’ associations.

A Waterworks Focus

Pepper-Lawson Construction has built more than $600 million in drinking water treatment and wastewater processing projects in Texas since 1994. Pepper-Lawson Construction was founded in 1983 by Paul Lawson and formed an alliance with Pepper Construction in 1987.

The general contracting and construction management firm formed Pepper-Lawson Waterworks, a separate limited liability company, in 2011 in order to focus on water-related projects throughout Texas and the Midwest, the company says.

Recent projects include:

  • A $6.5 million expansion to the Fort Bend County Water Control and Improvement District No. 2’s wastewater treatment plant, which includes capacity improvements. The project will be completed with no interruption or downtime at the facility, the company says;
  • A $190,000 emergency stabilization of a building at the San Antonio Water System’s Dos Rios facility used to store processed sludge. The work included reinforcing existing columns that had weakened; and
  • A $14 million improvement program at Houston’s 69th Street wastewater treatment facility. The program includes upgrading the plant’s grit, clarifier, chlorination and dechlorination systems.
Honest Relationships

Pepper-Lawson believes strongly in building relationships on honesty and open communication. “More than 80 percent of our business is from repeat clients,” the company says. “We also believe in being an advocate for our clients, so more than 85 percent of Pepper’s contracts are negotiated. This extends to our single-source project management approach as well, which ensures consistency and accountability throughout the project.”

Pepper Lawson’s open-book philosophy extends to its use of a job costing system that provides clients with real-time data and custom reports about costs and other project information, it adds.

Pepper Lawson Waterworks depends on the efforts of qualified subcontractors to make its projects successful. The company recently introduced a prequalification process, requiring all new and previous subcontractors to have a copy of its prequalification form on file before awarding contracts. 

Having the form increases opportunities for subcontractors to work with the company on future projects, it says.

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