| Published in: Recognition

Buchart Horn Receives ACEC/PA Diamond Award for Design of Columbia Water Company Water Treatment Plan Expansion

York, PA – The American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania (ACEC/PA) recently presented a Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence – Water Resources to Buchart Horn, Inc., in recognition of firm’s leadership on the recently completed Walnut Street Water Treatment Plant Expansion for the Columbia Water Company.

Diamond Awards recognize Pennsylvania engineering firms for projects that demonstrate a high degree of achievement, value and innovation, according to ACEC/PA.

Walnut Street Water Treatment Plant’s three-year, multiphase project provided new filtration and treatment processes and equipment to increase capacity now and in the future. Plant design and technological upgrades were developed so that the plant could continue to operate through a flood event without any impact to the quality of water produced.

For Columbia Water Company customers, the new technology and related automation “creates the most stringent safeguards to ensure that every drop of water that leaves our facility is of the highest quality,” said David Lewis, PE, Columbia Water Company vice president and general manager. For the Water Company itself, the project delivers improved quality control, greater efficiencies, and a safer environment for its associates.

In 2010, Columbia Water Company approached Buchart Horn to update its facilities, incorporate newer technology, and enable the company to expand the capacity of the plant. Added Lewis, “And do all that while allowing us to continue to produce treated water at the site – which required careful planning to accomplish successfully.”

The project was challenging for a number of additional reasons, as well. The water treatment facility is located in a flood plain on a compact site bounded by the river and a railroad. Moreover, the facility contains historic buildings. “Working within the historic buildings was a real challenge,” said Dan Cargnel, PE, senior staff engineer at Buchart Horn and project designer.

The finished project is a reflection of experience, planning, and patience.

To minimize the impact of rising water and floating ice, equipment was relocated above the flood elevation and a reinforced ice wall now provides greater protection from damaging ice floes. Flood barriers were employed in areas where chemical storage tanks had to be located on ground level.

The plan reused existing structures wherever practical and cost-effective, which eliminated the need for additional land for the upgrade. Further, because the water plant is in the Borough of Columbia’s Historic District, the design had to meet the Borough’s Historic District Ordinance. Buchart Horn integrated new structures with existing buildings, and used brick corbelling, brick arch openings, copper flashing, and simulated slate roofing to preserve and complement the character of the historic water plant. In the end, Buchart Horn’s design exceeded Historic District requirements.

“Although we used fairly well-established processing technologies, they are married by current and cutting edge communication technology,” Lewis explained. “So we are now able to gather a lot more information. We’re aware of changing water conditions more quickly and are able to make adjustments faster, which gives us better control over our product and makes us more efficient with our time.”

According to Cargnel, other project highlights include:

  • A required clearwell expansion to the water treatment plant would have been difficult and expensive to build because of the landlocked nature of the site. Buchart Horn delivered a cost-effective approach that provided the required clearwell capacity, while freeing up space for other required upgrades and improvements.
  • With limited room to expand the existing lagoon, the existing sedimentation tank was converted to a backwash waste-recovery facility which allows the backwash waste to be clarified and recycled. This reduces both the amount of wastewater needed to pass through the lagoon and the volume of wastewater discharged back to the river, enhancing the plant’s overall sustainability.
  • By providing elevated walkways between the buildings, Buchart Horn ensured safe associate access during flood events.

“It was a difficult and complicated design process,” admitted Cargnel, and Lewis agreed, saying, “It can be a struggle, upgrading a facility while staying online. Buchart did a great job managing the complexity of trying to upgrade and renew a facility, while allowing us to continue to make excellent quality water.”