Innovative Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Facility poses construction challenges

The Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Facility, generating 320-million gallons of water a day, is bringing better tasting water to residents of Phoenix, Ariz. Built with the help of RSC Equipment Rental and Ames Construction, the state-of-the-art facility utilizes several systems that normally operate independently, resulting in safe, clean water for Phoenix's growing population. Demanding project shows why renting makes sense...

LAKE PLEASANT, AZ, Sept. 20, 2005 -- If you were to ask anybody, "What's the one most important thing you need in the desert?" The typical answer would most likely be "water." Obviously, you can't do much else without it.

That's why the desert region of central Arizona is now the site of North America's largest design-build water project: the $336 million Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant, just northeast of Phoenix.

The Phoenix metropolitan area has had explosive growth in the last several years, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. In anticipation of further population increases and expansion into the city's northern suburbs, the new Lake Pleasant water treatment facility was designed to provide high-quality drinking water for an additional 300,000 homes in the next two decades.

Construction began in the summer of 2004, with delivery of finished water to the city's system scheduled for February 2007. The treatment plant is initially expected to provide 80 million gallons/day, with an ultimate capacity of 320 mgd.

Black & Veatch and McCarthy Building Companies are joint-venture partners subcontracting to American Water Services, which will manage the water-treatment facilities. The project includes a raw water intake and pumping station, with 1.5 miles of large-diameter pipeline to deliver raw water to the 225-acre treatment plant site. The contract also calls for a buried, 40-million gallon storage reservoir to hold treated water, plus pumping to deliver the finished water to the distribution system.

In addition to state-of-the-art, high-tech treatment elements ¿ such as an innovative ballasted flocculation process for high-rate sedimentation, post-filtration granular activated carbon contactors and ultraviolet (UV) disinfections ¿ the Lake Pleasant plant features a unique architectural concept designed to match the natural environment and make extensive use of indigenous materials. That means dealing with a lot of desert and mountain rock.

"This is just a very hard area to manage construction. The material is so hard that it tears the machines up," says Elton Dalmolin, project and dirt superintendent with Ames Construction. Ames is the subcontractor responsible for installing all large pipes, as well as site grading, road prep and finished landscaping.

"There's an extensive amount of time for repairs, and that delays our pipe installation," he adds.

Contractors also face delays from a construction regulation that requires all water-bearing structures to stand on solid fill material. The fill material must be compacted and designed at 9,000 msf.

"This process slows down our operation because it involves forming, filling and curing concrete," Dalmolin said. "There is also a lot more equipment involved -- overall it is a costly and time-consuming procedure."

The scope and physical demands of the Lake Pleasant project have presented many equipment-related challenges to Ames and other subcontractors. To help keep work on schedule, Ames turns to RSC Equipment Rental for extra equipment, especially on short notice.

"If a piece of our equipment goes down, we get a replacement from RSC immediately," says Dalmolin. "I like that quick turnaround. If we call and need service or need another piece of equipment, we have it."

"They respond quickly and they're available 24/7," agrees Hank Chaddock, pipe superintendent with Ames. "The service is excellent, and the equipment is in good working condition."

Ames relies on RSC for a variety of equipment types, including water pumps, generators, compaction equipment, backhoes and aerial equipment when working inside the structures.

"I've used other rental companies," says Chaddock, "but for the five years I've lived here, RSC is the best in Arizona."

Rental Service Corporation (www.rscrental.com), a company within the Atlas Copco Group, is the leading provider of equipment rental services for the construction, industrial/petrochemical, manufacturing and government sectors in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The company operates two well-respected brands: RSC Equipment Rental and Prime Energy. RSC Equipment Rental serves the construction and industrial markets, while Prime Energy provides oil-free air, generator and temperature control services to a broad range of industries.

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