OREGON TWP. - The new Genesee County Water Treatment Plant under construction here is a bit off the beaten track. But as an integral part of the county and region's new water system, the plant will perform a vital service and is exactly where it needs to be.
This fall, about 100 Hardhats have been working at the site every day, at Marathon and Stanley roads in Lapeer County. The $119 million plant, built on 76 acres of former farmland, is sited on a line of pipeline that runs some 60 miles due west of the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) system's intake in Lake Huron. The plant, with a daily intake capacity of 30 million gallons, will treat water from the KWA pipeline for all current and future Genesee County water customers. The plant will also pump raw water to the City of Flint, which will process the water with its existing treatment plant.
Work started in the fall of 2015 under general contractor Spence Brothers. "Building a new water plant is not all that common, so it's kind of nice to be starting from scratch," said Syd Smith, senior project representative for Hubbell, Roth and Clark, the project's consulting engineer. "Usually water plant work involves adding on or performing retrofits, so it's been a real treat to just start digging in the ground and going at it."
Smith said "we're going to use just about every bit" of the property for the new water plant. The site consists of four main elements: an administration building, a pump house, a treatment building, and a finish water reservoir. Dominating the elevated eastern end of the site is the plant's 125-million-gallon "impoundment," a vinyl-lined, open-air, man-made lake that will hold water coming into the site. The impoundment is the first stop at the plant for water pumped in from Lake Huron through a buried 66-inch steel spiral welded pipeline.
The plant includes a mixing tank with chemicals to coagulate and disinfect the water, a reactor tank, a clarifier, filter cells, and finally a finish water area, where the water will await distribution.
Central to the mission of the plant are 11 pumps on site. Four pumps are devoted to processing raw water for Genesee County, four will pump raw water to Flint's water plant for processing, and three will pump finish water to the Henderson Road pump station for distribution throughout the water distribution system, which serves about 150,000 people.
The extensive pipe work and related plumbing at the plant is being undertaken by Ecker Mechanical, which is handling the plumbing and mechanical works for the buildings, and John E. Green, whose pipe trades professionals are installing the major process piping and fixtures related to the water system.
"We're doing well," said Ecker foreman Tom Garty of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 370. "We're on time, and we're looking forward to getting everything enclosed for the winter." Garty said the beefed-up building is unlike most he has ever worked in, with "all kinds of re-rod and 30-inch floors. This building was built to last forever, that's for sure," he said.
John E. Green foreman Rocky Kanyo of Local 85 said he also worked on the new water treatment plant in Bay City that was completed last year. "I like municipal work," he said. "This is like that one, a good project, very interesting work."
Work has progressed as expected, Smith said. "Spence Brothers has been excellent to work with, and they have a good group of subcontractors. And the skilled trades have been excellent. They're all union, and they have apprenticeship programs that put out good people who are able to do this specialized work."
One of the biggest challenges at the site, Smith said, isn't necessarily the buildings themselves. He said a great deal of care has to be taken to capture the sediment run-off of the fine clay soil at the site and prevent erosion. That same soil, he said, made it necessary to beef up the foundations of the plant: more than 1,500 steel H-piles were driven to a depth of 80 feet below the plant to stabilize it.
Construction of the water treatment plant is being undertaken by Genesee County, not the City of Flint nor the Karegnondi Water Authority. The KWA, which includes representation from Genesee County, Lapeer County, Lapeer City, Sanilac County and the City of Flint, is building a new $274 million pipeline and related water delivery system to a corridor of customers along I-69. The system will serve a population of 275,000, with a capacity for about 600,000.
The 80-mile pipeline project was initiated for cost-saving and dependability purposes. The region has been served by the City of Detroit's water system, but price hikes and the fact that it's at the end of a long line of pipes has led to water supply problems in the past. The City of Flint is currently tapped into Detroit's water system, after the notorious ill-fated attempt to save money by drawing corrosive water from the Flint River, which sent lead-poisoned water through the city's pipes.
The water treatment plant project is expected to be complete in August 2017, with the start of KWA water pumping through the system in the fall.
A 66-INCH STEEL WATER intake pointing directly east toward its Lake Huron source is placed by Hardhats in front of what will be the new Genesee County Water Treatment Plant.
TOILING IN A 22-FOOT-DEEP filter cell at the new Genesee County Water Treatment Plant are Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 370 members Dave Worthing, Blake Schueneman and Dale Strand. They’re employed by John E Green. The concrete caps at the base of the cell are being removed, and will be filled with media sand as part of the filtration process.