The Newport water system includes a complex system of nine reservoirs having a wide range in quality that can change quickly. It also includes two treatment plants with different processes, one of which has equipment that is much beyond its useful life and the other with limited treatment capacity. The distribution system includes several pressure zones and extended water age concerns. Newport provides retail water service to the City, Middletown and a small section of Portsmouth and wholesale water service to Naval Station Newport and the Portsmouth Water & Fire District.
In 2004, the City of Newport completed a Water Treatment Plant Compliance Evaluation. The purpose of this project was to assess current and future regulatory compliance as well as the physical condition of Newport’s two water treatment plants – Station 1 Water Treatment Plant and Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant (WTP). The most significant challenge was identified as achieving compliance with new regulations for TTHMs (total trihalomethanes). The Compliance Evaluation concluded that the Lawton Valley WTP was beyond its useful life in terms of facilities and equipment and could not be cost-effectively upgraded and therefore should be replaced with a new plant. The study also concluded that the Station 1 WTP required upgrading to restore its reliable treatment capacity to 9 million gallons per day (mgd) as it can currently produce only about 6 mgd without compromising the quality of the finished water. In 2008, the City entered into a Consent Agreement with the Rhode Island Department of Health under which improvements to the water treatment plants will be completed by December, 2014.
In 2009 and 2010, the City conducted detailed pilot testing studies to determine the optimal treatment method to reduce TTHMs. This included evaluation of “conventional” treatment (similar to what is now used in Newport) as well as “advanced” treatment. If conventional treatment alone cannot sufficiently remove organics, then advanced treatment would be needed. The findings of the pilot testing studies showed that “conventional” treatment by itself did not achieve sufficient level of organics removal to control TTHMs and that it would be necessary to include “advanced” treatment in the new facilities. The results of the pilot testing as well as the design requirements for the plant improvements were incorporated into a Request for Proposals (RFP).
A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was issued in 2009 as the first step in selecting the D/B contractor. The City’s Evaluation Committee included: City Manager, Director of Finance, City Solicitor, Director of Utilities, and Deputy Director of Utilities. CDM Smith, the City’s Advisor for the water treatment plant improvement project, provided technical assistance for the Evaluation Committee throughout the procurement process. Three D/B teams were shortlisted. The RFP was issued in November 2010.
In May 2011, all three D/B firms submitted their proposals and the City’s Evaluation Committee met over the summer to comprehensively review the legal, technical, financial, cost, and non-cost aspects of each submittal. In October 2011, the Evaluation Committee recommended that the City begin negotiations with the preferred D/B team of AECOM/ C. H. Nickerson Joint Venture, toward the goal of awarding a contract in early 2012. The City’s special legal counsel for the project, Pannone, Lopes, Deveraux, and West (PLDW), assisted with drafting and negotiations related to the Design Build Contract. CDM Smith, also assisted in the technical aspects of contract negotiations.
In January 2012, the Newport City Council approved the award of a design build contract with a value of $67,000,000 to AECOM/C.H. Nickerson Joint Venture. The City Council also awarded a contract for CDM Smith to continue providing services as the City Advisor for the project through the construction and project closeout phases. The funding for the water treatment plant projects will be provided by subsidized loans from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), administered by the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency (RICWFA) and the Rhode Island Department of Health, Office of Drinking Water Quality (RIDOH).
The design build contract includes the design, permitting, and construction of the new Lawton Valley Plant and the upgrades to the Station No 1 Plant. Also included is the required acceptance testing of the two plants, training of City personnel, and demolition of the existing Lawton Valley treatment facilities. The recommended treatment processes will be standardized at the two plants and will consist of preoxidation (using chlorine dioxide), clarification (using dissolved air flotation or “DAF”), granular media filtration, advanced treatment, disinfection (using chlorine), and treatment (adjustment of the pH) to control the corrosivity of the water. For the method of advanced treatment, GAC (granular activated carbon) contactor to reduce TTHMs has been selected. The GAC contactors offers additional benefits of more robust control of taste and odors, particularly suitable for addressing late-summer algae blooms that occur in the city’s reservoir supplies. It is anticipated that the advanced treatment will initially be operated only during the months of May through October and bypassed when not required to save operating costs. However if required at some point in the future due to regulatory changes and or need, the advanced treatment process can be used year round.
The design includes a new Lawton Valley plant located on the site of the existing 4-million gallon reservoir adjacent to the existing (circa 1942) plant. The new building will be an aesthetically-pleasing, highly functional structure constructed from high quality, durable and easily-maintained materials. The 4-million gallon reservoir will be demolished to provide space for the new plant and will be replaced with a new, smaller 1.75-million gallon tank that would have more “turnover” (usage) and thereby decrease the amount of time the water remains in storage before it is supplied to consumers. Prior to demolition of the 4 million gallon reservoir, a 1 million gallon interim water storage tank was constructed in the Fall 2012 and placed into service. The interim tank will be removed from service and from the project site once the new Lawton Valley plant and the 1.75 million gallon tank are fully operational and approved by the City. At the Station 1 plant, all of the new treatment processes will be retrofitted into the existing building with the exception of the GAC contactors. The GAC contactors will be housed in new building on the south side of the existing facility to minimize visual impacts. Improvements will be made to the entrance and plant landscaping to improve aesthetics. At both plants, the new facilities will incorporate “green” principles and sustainable, energy efficient components including requirements of the Rhode Island Green Building Act. This will include items such as building orientation, use of renewable/recycled/regional building materials, energy efficient fixtures and motorized equipment, natural lighting, heat recovery, thermally enhanced walls/windows/roofing systems, storm water control and recovery, and water use reduction and waste water recovery.
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