Baldwin Water Works, Cleveland’s water system, was in need of drastic renovation and modernization. The project faced many challenges – including having to maintain water service during construction and working around the many historical landmarks within the system. By relying on project management standards and practices, Baldwin Water Works was able to ensure the timely completion of the project, while accommodating the numerous challenges inherent in the project.
Baldwin Water Works comprises four water treatment facilities, which are among the 10 largest in the country – over 500 million gallons of water are pumped to Cleveland residents daily. The treatment system, developed in 1856, was in need of renovations and improvements and in 1996, the city began a US$750 million plant enhancement program (PEP) to ensure that the facilities were cost-effective and of high quality.
The City of Cleveland Division of Water hired MWH Americas Inc., a resource management services provider, as the PEP management consultant. MWH was responsible for all project activities, including planning, design and construction, as well as cost, time and quality management.
The goal of the PEP project was to evaluate and optimize the water supply. In addition, the MWH project team sought to meet and exceed existing and future water regulations set by state and federal governing bodies. The project team would rehabilitate and modernize the facilities to ensure they were at their highest operational efficiency and safety.
The overall challenge for the design and construction teams was constructing the new facilities at a cost that would result in the lowest water rates possible. The teams also wanted to limit future operational and maintenance costs, and therefore had to take into account all future scenarios.
Additionally, the Baldwin Water Works facility needed to remain operational during construction. Construction crews had to work around seasonal water use – working heavily during the months when the city required the least amount of water, and ensuring there were no outages during the months when water demand was at its highest.
The project team sought to modernize the buildings while maintaining their historical structure. This preservation goal required the team to conduct restoration and modernization projects simultaneously. For example, the Baldwin building project team would make renovations to the roof and exterior wall, while the filter rehabilitation team restored rooflines. With limited space on the construction site, having two separate contractors made work difficult, especially with the time-sensitive completion date.
The facility layout posed yet another challenge. The existing water reservoir bordered the section where most of the reconstruction was occurring. Due to the delicate nature of the building, delivery and preparation of materials could not take place near the actual site, adding to the time and difficulty of the project.
From the start of the project, MWH used project management techniques to develop a facility plan, mapping out and prioritizing the necessary improvements. Under MWH’s advice, a facility-planning consultant conducted evaluations of all existing structures and identified the scope of work for each project. The project team also commissioned professional design firms to provide detailed design and contract bid documents.
One of the first projects included renovating the historic part of the water system. The existing administration building, which was built in the 1920s, had been designated a historic landmark in 1970, and therefore, construction teams had to be cautious not to damage any of the detailed architectural features. In order to avoid disturbing the intricate structures and ensure that the team followed all restoration guidelines, the project involved the City of Cleveland’s Landmarks Commission to consult on renovations.
The team also used project management techniques to plan for and accommodate space limitations into the project plan. To combat the limited space for the delivery and preparation of materials, construction crews cut through a 24-inch thick concrete wall 28 feet below ground to route all materials. The project team scheduled delivery of the 2500 tons of 20x48-inch ductile iron piping needed for the project on an as-needed basis. At the conclusion of the project, the opening was sealed.
Project management techniques helped identify and mitigate possible complications involved in the modernization aspects of the project as well. For example, the plant’s operational staff had to transition from a manual mode to a state-of-the-art PLC-based operating system. To make this transition smoother, the team provided training classes and hands on assistance for all employees. Due to this preparation, the team was able to quickly and efficiently implement the new systems.
In order to remove and replace all piping and valves, the team scheduled a complete plant closure. Although the contract allowed for a 10-day closure, the project took only four days due to the detailed planning of coordination teams.
Thanks to the use of project management standards and practices, the Baldwin Water Works project was completed approximately US$2.8 million (10.7 percent) below the awarded contract amount and reached all milestones on or ahead of schedule, with minimal risk and liability. The money saved was reallocated to other projects within the city. The team completed repairs on all filters eight months early due to communication and scheduling of specific deadlines throughout the project. The Baldwin Filter Rehabilitation project received multiple awards, including the American Public Works Project of the Year for 2004, and was a finalist for Project Management Institute’s Project of the Year for 2005.