Municipal water treatment plants are a vital yet often-overlooked asset in the communities they serve. Historically, by reliably treating wastewater and supplying drinking water to residents 24-7, they have been valued only for their durability and dependability and are only visible in the rare occasion of an emergency.
But many cities and municipalities now are looking to these facilities to help meet sustainability goals, drive climate-action plans, or simply do right by the environment. Whether a city is upgrading an existing plant or building a new one, Barr helps owners reimagine infrastructure facilities and the spaces they use by focusing on sustainability and climate-change resiliency in three key areas—power, water, and site design.
For the City of Blaine, Minnesota, Barr and engineering partner Bolton & Menk designed several sustainability features into Water Treatment Plant 4, which was constructed in 2020 to meet increasing demand for drinking water due to new development. The new facility employs a lamella clarifier to ensure the treatment process is 99 percent water efficient. Other features include rooftop rainwater reuse for irrigation, green roofs, green infrastructure stormwater management, native landscape design that benefit water quality and runoff, and energy-efficient lighting and motors. Rooftop solar panels will soon be installed to help power the facility.
Because water treatment plants last for several generations, our design also documented the rationale for the sustainability/resiliency features and incorporated flexibility to accommodate new treatment technology and sustainability approaches that might come in the next 50 to 100 years.
The Blaine project will be the centerpiece of Senior Civil/Environmental Engineer Michelle Stockness’s presentation on sustainable design of treatment plants at the American Water Works Association/Minnesota Annual Conference on September 13 in Duluth.
About the author
Michelle Stockness, former vice president, senior civil/environmental engineer at Barr, specialized in water and wastewater engineering and approached projects with a sustainability emphasis, specifically focused on infrastructure rehabilitation and green infrastructure. With nearly two decades of experience, she provided civil and environmental engineering services to municipalities and industrial clients.