"We hired MWH for their in-house expertise and global resources, but their team has added value to the project beyond our original expectations," says Eric Millis, deputy director of the Utah Division of Water Resources. One way that MWH brought value at the front end of the project was utilizing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's integrated licensing process, which had never been used on such a large project before.
MWH is also using the process on the Southern Delivery System (SDS)—the largest water project in the Mountain States region—managed by Colorado Springs Utilities. The $940-million project, which involves coordination with multiple agencies, will pump water uphill and north from Pueblo Reservoir through a 50-mile underground pipeline to Colorado Springs. Construction began in mid-2010, and the ongoing project is expected to deliver 50 million gallons of water per day starting in 2016.
"MWH recognized how important it is for us to demonstrate value to our ratepayers, so they tied their compensation directly to their performance," says Dan Higgins, SDS deputy program director for construction and delivery at Colorado Springs Utilities. "A quarterly assessment determines how they are paid. This is real value for our ratepayers."
Higgins also credits MWH with leading the SDS safety plan and putting into place systems that have empowered local firms to achieve nearly 600,000 man-hours (almost three years) worked without a lost-time incident. MWH has also helped Colorado Springs Utilities find efficiencies that could lead to the project being delivered $68 million under budget.
Elsewhere in the Mountain States, MWH is working on several key water projects, including a $10.8-million wastewater pretreatment system at the production facility for yogurt-maker The Dannon Co. in West Jordan, Utah; a $135-million upgrade and expansion of the wastewater treatment plant for the Central Weber Sewer Improvements District in Utah; and a $17-million canal replacement in Cache County, Utah.
In addition, a centralized MWH research group based in California works with clients to support specific projects but also focuses on industry-wide issues and engineering science. "Our clients' issues today are far more complex than in years past. It is more imperative than ever that we look to the future and forecast upcoming issues," says Dr. Joseph Jacangelo, MWH research group leader. "The goal is to have solutions before we have problems."
A consistent theme that runs through the firm's diverse portfolio is a commitment to protect and develop the world's natural resources in a responsible and appropriate way. According to Krause, the MWH mission of "Building a Better World" has never been more relevant than in recent years as the firm helps clients meet increasing energy demands and prepare for current and future problems arising from climate change.
"The Mountain States are a good test tube of what is occurring in climate change. We're seeing huge changes in rainfall and intensity when it comes and how much comes," Krause says. "Water is a finite, precious resource. We are committed to helping our clients protect and preserve water by sharing our knowledge on how to use it wisely, how to treat it, how to deliver it and how to work with it."
Expanding the Panama Canal
Currently, MWH is leading the design for the historic $5.25-billion expansion of the 48-mile-long Panama Canal—the first expansion in the canal’s nearly 100-year history. MWH is the lead firm in the design joint venture, CICP Consultores Internacionales LLC, working in partnership with California-based TetraTech and Iv-Infra of the Netherlands.
The current schedule estimates contract completion in April 2015. The project widens the canal and adds a third lock, doubling the canal’s capacity and allowing bigger container ships and other cargo vessels to pass through the shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.