(Above Photo) The EchoWater project site under construction.
All Photo Credit: © Grayson Kohls
The EchoWater Project was a $1.7 billion upgrade to the 181-mgd Regional San Wastewater Treatment Plant in Sacramento, California. Officially completed in 2023, the EchoWater Project uses biological nutrient removal and advanced filtration to clean the water of ammonia, nitrates, and pathogens. The treated water can support diverse water uses in the Sacramento Delta region, including providing water for crop irrigation to help reduce groundwater pumping.
Kennedy Jenks (KJ) was responsible for site preparation for the EchoWater Project. Before many of the process upgrades could begin, the site had to be developed including:
- Both temporary and permanent access roads to construction vehicles
- Security enhancements to protect the site
- New site infrastructure including water, sewer, and recycled water
- Stormwater management
- 12kV and 480V electrical
- Fiber optic communications
- Wastewater process fluids
- Several new facility buildings
- Demolition and decommissioning of existing utilities.
Site preparation is an often-underrated part of project success that enables the larger treatment process construction to take place smoothly. Successful site preparation sets the stage for on-schedule completion of the other project elements. For this project, the new, high-capacity entrance gate was of primary importance to manage the 8,000 contractor vehicles per day entering the plant during construction. The new and improved plant access roads provided increased capacity for construction, maintenance, and operations vehicles to access the existing treatment facility even during the construction of the new process facilities. The upgraded and expanded 12kV electrical system provided sufficient power to supply not only temporary construction activity but the power required to serve the expanded plant long-term. The upgraded fiber optic network was necessary for robust data collection for the new process units.
The site preparation project was a linchpin for the overall project, and one of EchoWater’s most multifaceted projects due to the need for complex coordination with all the new facilities designers (as well as maintenance, operations, and the EchoWater Project Management Office (PMO) to develop the infrastructure to meet their future facility needs while maintaining the continuity of plant operations during construction of the new facilities. Each designer was at a different point in their own design process, so it often took predictive modeling scenarios to anticipate the facility’s water, sewer, storm drain, or power requirements. Coordinating with utilities was an added complication. The Site Preparation team had to plan for multiple different road closures and reconfigurations to accommodate construction equipment traffic, contractor vehicles, and plant staff vehicles all in proximity.
Stormwater handling required many sequencing steps to prevent winter rains from unduly impacting the site before the new storm drains were installed. Several temporary and permanent storm drain detention basins were planned, designed, and constructed on a tight schedule dictated by seasonal weather, construction activity, and continuity of regular plant operations. A smooth site preparation project helped to keep EchoWater on track and supported its on-schedule project delivery. KJ is proud to have supported the decade-long development of the EchoWater Project. The EchoWater project benefits millions of Californians and is a model for other regions to reduce groundwater pumping and support regional ecosystems.