Cutter Lateral Reach 21 Water Treatment Plant and Associated Items

Bloomfield N.M.

Best Water/Environment

Submitted By: Jacobs (previously CH2M)

Owner: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Lead Design Firm/General Contractor/Civil/Structural: Jacobs (CH2M HILL Engineers Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Jacobs)

MEP: Jacobs

Engineering Design - Pipeline: Souder Miller & Associates

Construction Contractor: Archer Western Contractors of New Mexico

The project team worked through tough issues to complete the $70.7-million project in April 2022 on budget and on schedule for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. It’s Reclamation’s first design-build water treatment plant. The plant provides safe drinking water to eastern portions of the Jicarilla Apache and Navajo nations.

Constructing the facility in the remote location in northwest New Mexico “required creative thinking,” one contest judge said. For example, when no water was available when field work started, the team contacted the local community, found well water that was used for industrial purposes and hauled it to the site. Power that had been planned to be at the site before construction began also was not available, so the team used temporary power from generators.

There also was a lack of potable water to disinfect the treatment plant. Jacobs—the lead design firm, general contractor, and civil, structural and MEP firm—procured a temporary water treatment package system to produce one million gallons a day (MGD) of potable water. After gaining regulatory approval, the system disinfected the treatment plant for 12 weeks until the plant could produce its own potable water.

The team also faced the COVID-19 pandemic, which “caused a devastating health crisis for the Navajo Nation and its people,” says Bart Deming, construction engineer/area manager in USBR’s Four Corners construction office. He praises the Jacobs and Archer Western teams for working more than 500,000 hours with no lost time during construction and no COVID-19 outbreaks at the site.

The facility’s capacity is 3.5 MGD and is designed to expand to 5.4 MGD in the future. The project also included design and construction of a clearwell; treated water pumping station; 500,000-gallon regulating tank and more than 21, 400 linear ft of raw, treated and finished water pipelines. Water for the plant comes from the Navajo reservoir via the Cutter Reservoir.

water plant

Location required “creative thinking,” a judge said. Inside (right), filters are in a row, not traditional alignment opposite each other.
Photo courtesy of Jacobs

“Overall, the project met and in some cases exceeded USBR’s goals,” Deming says, which is part of the reason USBR is using design-build for a second treatment plant at the location. The first used progressive design-build; the second will be traditional design-build.