City Wins Aquarius Award

Burton Drinking Water System Improvements Project Recognized by the EPA AQUARIUS Recognition Program

Stantec’s Water System Improvement Project for the City of Burton, Michigan has been awarded the honor of Recognized Project by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) AQUARIUS Recognition Program. The program honors outstanding achievements in innovation, sustainability, and public-health protection for projects funded by the EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), and each state is only allowed to nominate one project. The $22 million project replaced more than 19 miles of the city’s 90-year-old water system, improving the reliability of clean water for the city’s residents.

A 2012 reliability study showed that Burton’s water system was undersized and that its watermains were deteriorating. Supply lines regularly malfunctioned, resulting in more than 200 breaks over a 10-year period, 50 of which occurred between 2010 – 2012. During this time, the city was forced to operate its water storage tank below standard capacity, reducing water pressures and potentially limiting fire-fighting capabilities in the City’s heavily populated southwest district.

Since the project’s completion, the storage tank has returned to operating at full capacity and the new system has provided more than 4,800 people and 76 commercial customers improved water access (quality, pressure, and reliability.) Burton has also experienced a significant reduction in water loss, which in turn has reduced the annual fees paid to Genesee County for bulk water purchases. The City staff has also switched operations from a run to failure “reactive” operation mode to a “proactive” operation mode allowing them to maintain the entire the system.

Stantec designed the five-phase plan and oversaw construction for the project. In addition to replacing the cast iron supply lines with PVC watermains, the team also replaced two outdated pressure reducing valves and upgraded the city’s supervisory control and data acquisition system – a computer system used to monitor and control water and wastewater. As a result, the project has brought the water-delivery infrastructure up to EPA standards and extended the life of the system. The city saved more than $2 million through bidding alternative material and received over $2.8 million in principle forgiveness. In addition, Superintendent Marshke points to the significant reduction in water loss, increased efficiencies, reduced man-hours to fix broken pipes, and long-term viability of the infrastructure as among the cost savings for the ratepayers of Burton.

The city has begun implementing an assessment management program to proactively maintain its new water system and prevent extensive malfunctions in the future.

“It’s a tremendous honor to have our project for the City of Burton win on the national stage in the AQUARIUS Recognition Program,” said Dr. Dima El-Gamal, lead of this project for Stantec. “Our team worked diligently with the Mayor, Council members, and public works officials to find funding and engineer solutions to improve the delivery of clean water to the public. This recognition by the EPA is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved.”

Winners of the AQUARIUS Program were showcased in the 2019 AQUARIUS Compendium, which the EPA published online on November 18.

Following the success of the project, the city has moved to upgrade its wastewater infrastructure. Stantec has secured an additional $2 million grant to develop a wastewater system asset management program to improve the city’s more than 50-year-old sewer system. The grant funding allowed Stantec to inspect approximately 120 miles of the system and identify problem areas to prioritize repairs. The sewer system project would likely seek state funding and is expected to begin in spring 2021 and take five years to complete.

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund AQUARIUS Recognition Program