This is the second in a series of articles about major upgrades that OCWA—Central New York’s Water Authority—is making to its Lake Ontario Water Treatment Plant (LOWTP) over the next several years.  This article discusses the evaluation phase of the project which is currently ongoing. 

OCWA has decided to perform a comprehensive evaluation study and basis of design of the LOWTP with the following general objectives:

  1. Review the plant facilities for operability, condition, appropriateness, sizing, and efficiency. Recommend improvements based on findings including a prioritized ranking that supports project phasing.
  2. Review current unit processes and develop approaches for rehabilitation, upgrade and/or replacements.
  3. Identify current and future water quality and regulatory challenges and emerging contaminants including those challenges specific to Lake Ontario.
  4. Review and evaluate current and alternate treatment processes with a focus on the ability to reliably and efficiently meet current and future regulations.
  5. Identify appropriate industry standards, best practices, codes, guidance documents, references, and manuals and cite same in the development of recommended improvements.
  6. Develop an implementation plan to maintain LOWTP operation during all phases of work and to maximize effectiveness and efficiency of separate construction contracts.
  7. Review and evaluate current and projected water system demand including system growth and expansion, consolidations, and large wholesale and commercial possibilities. Verify the facility is and will be capable of meeting those demands.
  8. Consider system-wide corrosion control enhancements and compliance, with specific focus on the soon to be revised regulations.
  9. Consider accessibility, operability, flexibility, redundancy, and reliability of the facilities, and occupational health and safety of staff.
  10. Establish realistic estimates of capital and O&M costs for inclusion in overall project budgeting, decisions making, and funding efforts to manage and minimize the rate impact to our customers.

This is the first phase of a multi-year effort to improve the Lake Ontario Water Treatment Plant. OCWA will leverage the experience, lessons learned, and success of our 2008-2009 upgrade of the Otisco Lake Water Treatment Plant. That project saw a significant improvement in facility operations and a reduction in energy usage at its completion.

The Lake Ontario WTP project is currently estimated to cost between $50 and $60 million. This is a budgetary estimate as many upgrades are dependent on the results of detailed inspections and testing that will be performed during this initial phase. The results of this first phase of study and design will help OCWA identify the specific requirements of the project and refine the estimated costs accordingly.

Project kickoff occurred in August 2018. We are now in the data gathering phase of the work. The project engineer has submitted a list of required information and we are compiling those documents.  To obtain critical condition information as soon as possible, we performed the first round of detailed filter underdrain inspections this past fall. During a carbon reactivation cycle we removed the sand and gravel as well to made a filter underdrain available to the project engineer for detailed physical inspection. Understanding the condition of the underdrains will be instrumental in shaping the overall plant upgrades and what filter options will be piloted early next year.

During the week of October 22, 2018, we conducted multiple days of facility on-site inspections, evaluation and testing. This included inspection of one complete filter underdrain, a residuals handling lagoon, one clarifier, and physical coring and testing of select facility concrete. Preliminary reaction to the inspection is that overall the facility is in fair to good condition. Of note was that the filter clay tile underdrains appear to be in excellent overall condition (see photo below). We anticipate that we may be able to keep them as-is without compromising reliability and performance, which would be a substantial savings. However, we will wait to see the recommendation from our project engineer and the results of the filter piloting before we finalize any conclusions.

The initial findings of the evaluations are being presented this month (February 2019) and will present recommendations for addressing the following plant systems:

  • Mechanical
  • HVAC
  • Electrical
  • Security
  • Fire Protection
  • Architectural
  • Structural
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Clearwells
  • Corrosion control
  • Piloting
  • Disinfection