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New Water Distribution System

July 25, 2022

New Water Distribution System

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Big Solutions for a
Small Town Water System

Project Owner:
City of Revere, MN

Key Experience:

  • Successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, with four separate construction contracts and 100% remote funding agency coordination
  • Secured 86% grant through USDA RD, and DEED SCDP funding
  • Replaced water meters with remotely read automatic reading system. High accuracy meters increased revenue and decreased water loss
  • Replaced aging ACP pipe with new PVC - reducing public health risk and greatly reducing risk of water main breaks

Key Features:

  • Entirely new water distribution system
  • All new water meters
  • Demolition of existing water tower
  • Improved water quality with connection to Red Rock Rural Water System

The City of Revere, MN faced a familiar challenge for rural communities in the upper Midwest. The City’s aging water infrastructure was in need of upgrades. But with a declining population and many residents on a fixed income, there were limited resources to pay for costly repairs and maintenance of their failing water system. The water mains, valves and hydrants in the community needed to be replaced, the water tower needed to be repainted, and there was no treatment or back-up supply for the one and only well in town. In need of assistance, The City reached out to DGR Engineering (DGR) as a trusted water professional in the region to help them find a solution.

Aging Water Infrastructure
The existing water infrastructure was installed in the mid-1900s and included water mains which were constructed using asbestos-cement pipe (ACP), which was approaching the end of its useful life. As ACP ages it becomes brittle, making it difficult to repair. With the presence of asbestos fibers in the pipe material, ACP can be a health risk when the pipe is cut during repairs or when cracked. The City was also experiencing a water loss of over 18%. The town’s mechanical water meters were over 40 years old and were suspected to be contributing to the system’s water loss, in the form of unmetered water.

The City’s water tower was over 70 years old with a coating system that was in poor condition and showed visible signs of pitting in the steel. The most recent water tower inspection recommended a complete blast and re-coating of the tower, which would require special consideration for lead paint removal and other improvements to bring the structure into compliance with OSHA safety standards.

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Alternative Water Supply
The City’s water supply consisted of a single production well drilled in 1982 at a depth of approximately 200 feet. Although the well was still in good operating condition, there was no back-up well and no standby generation to ensure continuous water supply in the event of a power outage or failure/maintenance of the existing well. The Minnesota Department of Health imposed a requirement on the City to obtain a backup water source, either by drilling a second well or connecting to a regional water system.
The City’s water source was untreated except for chlorine injection for disinfection. The water quality of the existing well met all state and federal primary drinking water standards, but there were several contaminants that exceeded the non-mandatory secondary drinking water standards. High concentrations of iron, sulfates and total dissolved solids created taste, color and odor concerns within the community. The City needed a solution that not only provided a redundant water supply, but also improved water quality.

Funding Assistance
The City wanted an engineering study that would identify necessary water system improvements and establish a budget for financing those improvements. DGR assisted the City in securing a Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households (SEARCH) grant through USDA Rural Development to fund 100% of the cost of a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) and Environmental Assessment (EA). The report recommended full replacement of the water distribution system, new water meters with an automated meter reading (AMR) system, demolition of the water tower, abandonment of the existing well and chemical feed building, and a water service connection to the regional rural water system, Red Rock Rural Water System.

With an estimated price tag of over $1.1 million, and a small population, The City needed a comprehensive solution to help make the water system improvements affordable for its residents. The City's median household income made it eligible to receive a grant through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) for public facility improvements.

The SCDP public facility grant was packaged with financing through Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program that included additional grant funding and a low interest loan. The City’s final funding package included over 86% grant, keeping the project costs affordable for the town’s residents.

 

Project Design and Construction
With funding secured for the project, The City asked DGR to proceed with final design of the improvements recommended in the PER. Because of the unique nature of each type of work, the final design entailed separate construction contracts for the water distribution system replacement, water metering system replacement, water tower demolition and the connection to the Red Rock Rural Water System.

The water distribution contract was bid in February of 2020. By May of 2020, the water distribution contractor started construction. By the end of the year, all water main and services had been replaced, new water meters had been installed and the system was connected to Red Rock’s system. Once the connection was made to Red Rock, Revere residents said their final goodbyes to the City’s 73-year-old water tower.

Today, The City’s residents enjoy high quality water that comes to them in a new and reliable distribution system. City staff rest comfortably knowing the risk of water main breaks during cold winter nights is now greatly reduced, and customers are being accurately billed for usage. Thanks to a generous funding package, it was all done with a reasonable impact to user rates that was well received by the City’s residents.

In the end, the City of Revere completed a project that met their objectives, budget, and schedule. DGR staff is proud to have played a key role in this successful project.

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Site Development, Utility Improvements

July 25, 2022

Site Development, Utility Improvements

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public support for
public safety in alton

Project Owner:
City of Alton, IA

Key Experience:

  • Long term coordination with the City of Alton to plan for the future needs of the area
  • Successful coordination with local contractors
  • Local design partnerships with CMBA and EDA for the building addition project

Key Features:

  • Long-term City planning outlook- 2015 street project, 2022 Fire Station Addition project
  • Community support, $2M bonding bill supported by 97% of voters
  • Local contractors bids add to the community feel

DGR Engineering (DGR) continues to support the City of Alton, IA in planning and design for their long-term infrastructure needs, including a new fire station. As part of that process, a multi-phase plan for infrastructure projects was developed, splitting the project work into two phases to meet budgetary and approval constraints. Phase 1 (2015) involved a street reconstruction project, including updated sanitary sewer and water infrastructure with new road surfacing (PCC). Phase 2 (2021-22) included new (PCC) driveway and sidewalk, grading and building utilities adjacent to the new building addition.

Driveways, sidewalks and utilities for the 11th Street project (2015) were planned while keeping in mind the challenging ADA site for the future fire department expansion project (2021).

To add to the public support sentiment that surrounded this project, both publicly bid projects featured area contractors. The 2015 street project was completed by Jellema Construction of Alton, and the building general contractor was Poppma-Sikma of Sheldon. The design group included DGR as the civil engineering consultant for both projects, while the building addition (2021-22) was designed by CMBA Architects and Engineering Design Associates (EDA) as design partners.
Based on the design, bidding and construction time frames, the building addition project experienced the early effects of recent economic inflation. The City and design team selected project materials and changes as needed to meet the project budget. The project overwhelmingly passed in the bonding vote, including an additional parking paving bid alternate that was not included in the final project.

Challenges
As with most projects, challenges presented themselves throughout the course of the two projects. The primary concern from a site perspective was constructing a single floor elevation building addition adjacent to a roadway with 4' of fall, while maintaining fire truck passable driveway slopes and ADA required sidewalk grades.

The City provided early indication of their future building plans, allowing DGR engineers to design street grades that would meet the municipal street needs and allow for an ADA accessible route to the new community asset.
In the end, successful communication, planning and flexibility culminated in two successful projects for the community of Alton, resulting in a singular infrastructure upgrade.

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DGR designed a new lift station, new sanitary sewer, water mains and the associated service lines as well as a storm sewer system to collect stormwater. The stormwater was routed to the south end of Rushmore Drive to the sedimentation basin designed as part of the project. The sedimentation basin has a system in place to help collect trash washed from the streets and to contain sediment and oils from the roadway. This allows the City to collect that material and dispose of it, rather than have it carried into Splitrock Creek.

DGR teamed with Confluence to facilitate streetscaping and the sedimentation basin landscaping.

The sedimentation basin was a unique feature to this project. It was designed to slow the discharge of stormwater to Splitrock Creek in smaller rain events, but it also has the ability to be overtopped at the bottom in larger rain events without causing damage to the system.

As the City of Brandon grows, the basin will help to meet upcoming MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) EPA requirements that will be placed on the City.DGR assisted the the City in acquiring the land needed to construct the sedimentation basin and relocate the City’s lift station that serves the area. The decision was made to relocate and construct a new sanitary sewer lift station on the same parcel that would contain the sedimentation basin. The new lift station replaced some aging pumps and equipment, and employees will no longer need to climb down into a confined space. In addition, an on-site back up generator was added to provide instant backup in the event of a power outage.

During construction, DGR provided on-site construction observation to ensure the work complied with the design requirements and to work with residents, answer their questions and address their concerns. Temporary mailboxes were added near the post office for the project and when the project was complete, Cluster Box Units (CBU’s) were installed, eliminating mailboxes at each residence.

Phase II is planned to be constructed in 2023 and Phase III construction is planned for 2025.

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Neighborhood Reconstruction

July 25, 2022

Neighborhood Reconstruction

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Making Neighborhoods Better.

Project Owner:
City of Brandon, SD

Key Experience:

  • Project Phasing
  • Community Communication
  • Open House Informational Meetings
  • Easements

Key Features:

  • Water and Sewer Line Replacement
  • New Storm Sewer
  • New Curb and Gutter
  • New Asphalt Pavement
  • Sidewalk and ADA Improvements

In 2018, the City of Brandon selected DGR Engineering (DGR) to assist the community with the reconstruction of approximately 30 city blocks of the Rushmore Area in the southeast part of the city. The streets had outlived their useful life and the roadway was starting to degrade quickly in certain areas. Part of the reason for the rapid degradation of the street surface was the lack of storm sewer in the neighborhood. In addition, the water and sewer lines were in need of replacement due to their age and condition. Additional storm sewer, new curb, gutter and asphalt pavement, as well as a new 4 ft. wide sidewalk and ADA improvements, were also included.

The first steps in the process were to survey the entire project area, coordinate with staff to define the scope, and develop cost estimates for the work that needed to be done. Potential project phases were developed for the project to meet the financial needs of the City. Phasing of the project that would best fit the City's budget was determined, and then DGR began to design the first phase.

Communication was critical to keep residents informed. Letters were mailed out to residents prior to a survey taking place. A public open house was held to give residents details of the project and inform them of easements that would be needed. Easement documents were prepared and sent to property owners. DGR conducted many personal meetings with residents to discuss and obtain easements to facilitate the project.

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DGR designed a new lift station, new sanitary sewer, water mains and the associated service lines as well as a storm sewer system to collect stormwater. The stormwater was routed to the south end of Rushmore Drive to the sedimentation basin designed as part of the project. The sedimentation basin has a system in place to help collect trash washed from the streets and to contain sediment and oils from the roadway. This allows the City to collect that material and dispose of it, rather than have it carried into Splitrock Creek.

DGR teamed with Confluence to facilitate streetscaping and the sedimentation basin landscaping.

The sedimentation basin was a unique feature to this project. It was designed to slow the discharge of stormwater to Splitrock Creek in smaller rain events, but it also has the ability to be overtopped at the bottom in larger rain events without causing damage to the system. As the City of Brandon grows, the basin will help to meet upcoming MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) EPA requirements that will be placed on the City.

DGR assisted the the City in acquiring the land needed to construct the sedimentation basin and relocate the City’s lift station that serves the area. The decision was made to relocate and construct a new sanitary sewer lift station on the same parcel that would contain the sedimentation basin. The new lift station replaced some aging pumps and equipment, and employees will no longer need to climb down into a confined space. In addition, an on-site back up generator was added to provide instant backup in the event of a power outage.

During construction, DGR provided on-site construction observation to ensure the work complied with the design requirements and to work with residents, answer their questions and address their concerns. Temporary mailboxes were added near the post office for the project and when the project was complete, Cluster Box Units (CBU’s) were installed, eliminating mailboxes at each residence.

Phase II is planned to be constructed in 2023 and Phase III construction is planned for 2025.

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Wastewater Treatment Facility

July 25, 2022

Wastewater Treatment Facility

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Schleswig Wastewater Treatment Facility Moves Out of Town

Schleswig had two major decisions to make:
what type of treatment technology to construct,
and where it should be constructed.

Project Owner:
City of Schleswig, IA

Key Experience:

  • Selecting a suitable site for a new treatment plant involved coordination with:
    - Local landowners willing to sell land for a reasonable cost
    - County engineers to provide improved site access on minimum maintenance roads
    - Electrical utilities to provide new electrical service to the site
  • Schleswig received funding through the WWDWTFAP in the first year it was signed into legislation; a total of $775,000 in grant was awarded to six projects in Iowa in the first year

Key Features:

  • New WWTF designed to treat:
    - Average wet weather (AWW) flow
    of 0.234 million gallons per day (MGD)
    - BOD load of 276 lbs/day
    - Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) load
    of 58 lbs/day
  • Total construction cost of $3.5 million. The project was financed through:
    - SRF loan program including
    Planning & Design Loan
    - $300,000 CDBG grant
    - $100,000 Wastewater and Drinking Water Treatment Financial Assistance Program (WWDWTFAP) grant

The City of Schleswig, Iowa is a small, German-heritage town located just north of Denison on U.S. Highway 59. To treat its wastewater the City operated a 3-cell aerated lagoon facility located in the south part of town that was originally built in 1960, with upgrades made in 1975 and 1999. Since its construction, the community has continued to expand around the treatment facility, including a golf course directly to the west and a residential housing development immediately south. Each spring as the ice would melt, the lagoons would turn over and create an odor issue throughout town, while the floating aerators provided a constant humming sound as background noise to any activities taking place near the facility.

In 2017 the City was issued a new NPDES discharge permit which contained more stringent ammonia limits as well as new E. coli limits. Similar to many small communities in Iowa, Schleswig’s aging lagoon treatment facility could not meet these new limits. It was clear that innovation was needed; hence, the City retained DGR Engineering (DGR) and began planning a wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) improvements project.

In modifying their WWTF, the City had two major decisions to make: what type of treatment technology to construct, and where it should be constructed. With input and advice from DGR, the City decided that the best option would be to build a LemTec ™ treatment system, and to move it out of town.

The City was able to purchase 7.35 acres located 2.5 miles east of town to build its new treatment facility. The LemTec™ system was chosen based on its relatively small footprint, ease of operation, and low capital and operation and maintenance costs. Ultimately, the LemTec™ system allowed Schleswig to meet the more stringent permit limits utilizing a robust, easy-to-operate, affordable technology.

The project included a new inlet screening building with a vertical mechanical screw screen and compaction system intended to remove, wash, and compact solids in the wastewater stream larger than 0.25 inches. The screening system is followed by a duplex submersible pump lift station, both located at the existing treatment site. The lift station pumps the screened influent through 2.5 miles of 8” forcemain to the new treatment site.

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Wastewater graphic

Many WWTFs that struggle to meet ammonia limits have more issues in the cold winter months than in the summer. This is because at a wastewater temperature of 60°F, the nitrification rate at which bacteria treat ammonia begins to decline, and at a wastewater temperature of 50°F the treatment efficiency is reduced by half.

The LemTec™ system helps combat this phenomenon in two ways: first, the insulated lagoon covers help retain heat in the system; second, the fixed media in the polishing reactors provides greater surface area to allow a larger population of nitrifying bacteria to grow and treat ammonia.

The LemTec™ system at the new treatment site consists of two aerated treatment lagoons which are covered with insulated, floating covers to retain heat and increase treatment efficiency.

The aerated lagoons are followed by small polishing reactors which contain fixed media to provide additional ammonia treatment. Effluent from the polishing reactors is disinfected through a UV disinfection system for treatment of E. coli prior to discharge to the receiving stream.

The system began initial start-up in mid-December 2021, and after a slow start-up process due to a cold winter and spring, is currently treating the wastewater to non-detectable ammonia concentrations (< 0.5 mg/L).

The City is currently working on filling in one of the old treatment lagoons, and the floating aerators and baffles were removed from the other treatment lagoon as a part of this project. A walking trail winds past the old treatment lagoon, and now instead of nuisance odors and loud humming from the floating aerators, residents can enjoy a serene view of a pleasant, quiet water feature while their wastewater is being effectively treated outside of town.

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Upgrading Communications

July 29, 2021

Upgrading Communications

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Fiber optics chosen as optimal
solution for L&O Power Cooperative

Project Owner:
L&O Power Cooperative

Key Experience:

  • Specified and procured all the components for this project, including fiber optic cables, hand holes, equipment racks, patch panels, Ethernet switches, fiber test equipment, patch cables,
    and more
  • Locating services using GIS
  • Installation included all cable plowing, trenching, boring, and pulling required for each L&O site as well as the 4.5-mile underground project
  • Tested the functionality of the fiber network, providing sufficient data to be utilized as a baseline for future troubleshooting

Key Features:

  • Privately owned and secure high speed fiber optic data network
  • Optical ground wire (OPGW) serves as both a communications path and bonds adjacent towers to earth ground to shield the high-voltage conductors from lightning strikes
  • Detailed GIS mapping of transmission lines and underground facilities

Reliable data communications are a necessity to all industries, and the utility industry is no exception. In critical moments, dependable communications are imperative. A poor connection can be the difference between a 5-minute or an extended electrical outage. No one wants an extended outage, extra expense, or inconvenience of having to commit additional resources to what should have been a simple solution. In addition, certain scenarios can put first responders or the general public at risk.

Realizing the risks of a less-than-reliable communications network, a long-standing client of DGR Engineering (DGR), L&O Power Cooperative (L&O), was determined to improve communications on its electric transmission system. L&O has utilized wireless radios on its system since the 80s and unlicensed 900 MHz digital Ethernet wireless radios since 2005. The radio system performed well for years but was designed as a budget-friendly way to connect sites over long distances while sending limited amounts of data. The need for constant uptime, along with an exponential rise in data traffic over recent years is exceeding the technology’s limitations.

DGR engineers explored different solutions. Radio technology with more data throughput such as Wi-Fi or microwave could be deployed. Microwave radios proved econ-omically unfeasible. Standard Wi-Fi technology could not meet the distance requirements and would require additional repeater sites and devices to meet L&O’s needs. Cellular radio options were reviewed, but paying for data and exposing critical data to the outside world was seen as a last resort or backup plan. A private fiber optic network owned exclusively by L&O became the solution that met both current and future needs. Fiber is reliable, secure, and offered data capacity that exceeded L&O’s projected future needs.

DGR recommended utilizing L&O’s existing transmission lines as the backbone for their fiber network, replacing the static wire on most lines with an Optical Ground Wire (OPGW) design. OPGW is a stranded electrical conductor with a steel tube core. The steel tube is then filled with numerous fiber optic strands. L&O understood that pursuing this solution would take longer to deploy but would be in their best interest long-term. As this OPGW infrastructure is built out, L&O intends to utilize existing wireless radios for backup communication in the event the OPGW line is compromised.

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As part of the capital improvements study that DGR recently performed for L&O, it was identified that many of their lines were at the end of their useful life and due for replacement. The timing of the line replacement lined up well with their need for communication infrastructure improvements. DGR was tasked by L&O to design a new transmission plant to include OPGW. The remaining lines, yet to be completed, will require existing static wires to be replaced with OPGW or installation of a new underground fiber line to connect remaining terminal sites. The OPGW will be the backbone of the L&O communications infrastructure for the foreseeable future.

With the OPGW plan in place, DGR proposed the installation of a new 4.5-mile underground fiber line to connect their headquarters building to the OPGW network.

DGR’s team determined the optimal routes, materials, and cable locating requirements. DGR also consulted with local utilities to optimally navigate rights-of-way where possible. DGR’s team acquired the necessary permits from the Iowa DOT and Lyon County. No DNR permits, encroachment agreements, or new easement acquisitions were necessary for this particular project. The route consisted of utility rights-of-way, existing utility easements, and private property owned by L&O.

Underground cable location processes are necessary for all utilities that own and operate underground facilities. After investigation of contracted locating services options, L&O ultimately decided to take on the locating responsibility themselves. With the help of precise Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment that integrated into GIS and some additional effort during installation, L&O could perform locating services, accurate to within a few inches. The Owner felt comfortable with this amount of accuracy and appreciated the simplicity of the idea. All the underground cable installed was either armored or included a tracer wire to accommodate traditional cable locating practices as well.

The team at DGR developed plans and specifications two separate contracts the construction of the underground project; one for underground cable installation and the other for fiber splicing. The scope of the installation included all rural area cable plowing, trenching, boring, and pulling required for each L&O station site as well as the 4.5-mile mainline project. The installation contractor was able to substantially complete their scope of work in approximately one week while encountering only minor issues during construction. The fiber splicing connected all the OPGW system to underground cables as well as interconnecting fiber patch panels. DGR specified and procured all the components for this project, including fiber optic cables, hand hole, pedestals, equipment racks, patch panels, Ethernet switches, test equipment, patch cables, and more.

Testing the fiber optic cable upon project completion is a key milestone for this project as well. DGR’s ability to test the functionality of the fiber network provides L&O with sufficient data to be utilized as a baseline for future troubleshooting.

The DGR team was able to perform the necessary project design, permitting, specifications and procurement, incorporation of GIS, and complete the construction on time. GIS was originally outside the scope of this project, but in the end, contributed much value in construction, mapping and locating efficiencies. The GIS team at DGR was able to quickly develop a GIS solution, and it has been an invaluable tool. Overall, the DGR team was able to complete this job on time, on budget, and overcome numerous unforeseen challenges in completing the project.

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