Basin Creek Water Treatment and Ancillary Facilities
Butte-Silver Bow, Mont.              
Best Project

Owner: Butte-Silver Bow
Lead Design Firm/Structural/MEP Engineer: HDR
General Contractor: Swank Enterprises General Contractors
Civil Engineer: Robert Peccia & Associates (RPA)
Geotechnical Engineering: Portage
Subcontractors: Elkhorn Electric Inc.; 4G Plumbing & Heating Inc.

The Basin Creek water treatment plant in Butte, Mont., is the first in the country to install a ceramic membrane filtration system. Ceramic membranes are stronger, more resistant to chemicals and have a longer life expectancy than conventional membranes. And instead of cleaning them with chemicals every month, they require cleaning just twice a year.

The prospect of having to build during Butte’s harsh winter spurred the project team to procure underground piping in advance so it would be available when the contract was awarded. Thus began a rush to beat the cold weather by burying a 600-ft-long, 48-in.-dia pipeline. Designers sought  to minimize energy use by relying as much as possible on gravity. As a result, no pumping is required for filtering raw water. Downstream from the filtration process, finished water rarely needs to be pumped. The hydraulics allow for complete gravity flow through the plant and into the distribution system. The flow is controlled by the interplay between plant hydraulics and the demand for water in the distribution system. If demand decreases, the pressure in the plant rises and the filtration rate goes down. When demand is heavier, the greater differential pressure between the plant’s reservoir and the distribution system increases flow through the plant.

Butte is a mining town with complex water needs. Its new plant provides state-of-the water treatment and proves that the ceramic-filter technology will work in a U.S. treatment facility.

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