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The Few, The Proud: The Challenge to Upgrade Infrastructure on Active Military Installations and How One Utility Overcame

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Replace, rehabilitate, or simply eliminate? Utilities often struggle to determine the best approach to upgrade existing infrastructure. Add to that challenge that the existing infrastructure is located on fully operating military installations adjacent to wetlands and water bodies, and the approaches can become more complex. For example, what should you consider when you plan for an upgrade of a pump station located behind an active military firing range and within a few feet of a wetland? This paper will provide an overview of the approaches used to improve wastewater assets acquired by the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority (BJWSA) on three local military installations, and how these approaches benefitted the environment, the utility, and the military. Additionally, the paper will provide an overview of why and how the BJWSA acquired aging infrastructure on the military bases, and the effects the military's constraints have had on selecting the “best” approaches.

The BJWSA is a major regional water and wastewater service provider for Beaufort and Jasper counties in South Carolina with a service area greater than 1,400 square miles and wastewater assets including over 700 miles of sewer and 400 wastewater pump stations. As part of a federal utility privatization initiative, the BJWSA has competed for and acquired the water and wastewater assets on four local military installations in their service area. These recently acquired infrastructure components are located on the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island (MCRD-PI), Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS — Beaufort), Laurel Bay Housing, and the Naval Hospital. The MCRD-PI is the major Marine recruit training installation for the eastern US. Marines were first stationed there in the 1890s and it has been a recruit training hub since 1915. Much of the current wastewater system infrastructure at MCRD-PI dates back to the 1940s. Additionally, numerous wastewater pump stations are located adjacent to wetlands, creeks and rivers.

As part of the acquisition, the BJWSA completed an Initial System Modification (ISM) assessment outlining projects required to be funded by the Utility Privatization (UP) Contract to bring the assets up to current industry standards. With Jacob's assistance on many of the ISM Projects, the BJWSA has implemented a design and construction program that includes strict adherence to each military installation's security, safety, environmental, and cultural resources protection requirements. Several factors were evaluated in determining the appropriate designs for the ISMs, specifically involving pump stations at PI and the MCAS. These factors include BJWSA's preferences, maintenance requirements, cost, flood elevations, and net positive suction head requirements. An additional factor was compliance with the Base's Exterior Architecture Plan (BEAP). Based upon an evaluation of these factors for each pump station, Jacobs recommended the design approaches for each ISM project. The design for most of these projects has been completed. In addition, Jacobs performed an overall gravity sewer condition assessment on about 67,000 linear feet (LF) of sewer at PI and 3,000 LF of sewer at the Naval Hospital being considered for rehabilitation. This included sewer cleaning, smoke testing, CCTV inspection and defect identification, manhole inspection and evaluation. A computerized assessment program was implemented to help manage the data, evaluate the results and determine the required improvements along with their capital costs.

The wastewater infrastructure upgrade approaches on the MCRD-PI, the MCAS, and the Naval Hospital are unique and complex. The sewers at the Naval Hospital have been re-lined using cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) and the sewers at MCRD-PI are slated to be rehabilitated using CIPP beginning in early 2011. By early 2012, of the pump stations at the MCRD-PI and MCAS, fourteen will be eliminated via new gravity sewer and fourteen will be fully rehabilitated. Additionally, one pump station at MCRD-PI will be relocated to accommodate the new gravity sewer system. The overall ISM program is anticipated to cost about 14 million with construction on all the projects to be completed by early 2012. At this time, a couple of ISM projects have been completed and design and construction is ongoing on others. A key point that attendees will take away from this paper is that the BJWSA's acquisition of the military installations not only improved the aging wastewater assets on the bases but did so without disruption to the day-to-day operations. This allowed and will continue to allow the military installations to do what they do best – train Marines. Consequentially, this allowed the BJWSA to do what they do best – protect public health and the environment with renewed wastewater infrastructure for the 21st century.

Keywords: Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority; Military; Parris Island; Rehabilitation; infrastructure

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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