Utilizing Garver's College Station Water Design Center to support a growing demand in Hutto

Garver is searching for experienced engineers who can add their knowledge and expertise to our growing College Station Water Design Center (WDC). Situated in a prime area of Texas, our College Station WDC collaborates on unique and challenging projects throughout the state, including ones like the Hutto Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion, led by Central Texas Water Infrastructure Team Leader Ian Toohey.

Located 22 miles north of Austin, the City of Hutto has established itself as one of the fastest-growing cities in the state of Texas. Its population has increased by over 30% the last decade, resulting in a greater demand on the City’s water and wastewater resources and facilities.

Understanding the need to keep up with the influx of new residences and businesses, and preparing for future demand, the City of Hutto partnered with Garver to assess its current wastewater capabilities by developing a long-term master plan to make sure the City would be able to keep up with growth.

Garver began the preliminary planning phase in 2022 by focusing first on developing a hydraulic model from scratch, along with an accelerated master plan for an upgraded wastewater treatment facility for the city. These upgrades would provide Hutto with the ability to continue development, accounting for the projected growth of the region.

While conducting our research into Hutto's needs, a few ancillary, but important, challenges became apparent. One of those included finding a solution for the current wastewater treatment disinfection system, which was facing an emergency due to long lead times on replacement parts. We initially looked into a short-term solution to bring in a temporary pad-mounted UV disinfection trailer system but the only options that were available would have cost millions of dollars and would have taken a long time to fabricate. The City needed a solution that was temporary, easy to deploy, and would not require additional concrete construction.

As an alternative, we evaluated using a relatively new chemical disinfectant called peracetic acid (PAA). It’s an emerging solution on the market and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is moving towards adoption of PAA as part of its standard regulations. We collaborated with TCEQ on their draft requirements for this emergency installation, and developed a plan that would be permittable under their new rules. The PAA system was easy to operate, could be installed by the operations team, and could be deployed as a no-concrete solution within the existing plant. That resulted in a huge cost savings, and it will be the first permitted application of PAA disinfection at a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Texas.

Garver also worked with TCEQ to re-rate the plant, looking for opportunities to optimize the existing assets and increase its permitted capacity at zero construction cost. Our team closely evaluated records of influent flow and loading to the plant, and was able to reduce the permitted peaking factor from 4.0 to 3.2. Therefore, without having to do any capital improvements, the plant was able to increase its capacity by 25% to 2.5 million gallons per day (MGD). Together, the PAA system and the re-rate will help bridge the gap for the City for the immediate future while the long-term plans are in the works.

Those challenges and solutions have been driven by the accelerated design phase of the project, which will continue into the first quarter of 2024. Preliminary construction on the upgraded wastewater treatment facility is set to begin early next year, with the plant set to be online in summer of 2026.

One of the interesting aspects of this project is that there are multiple strategies being progressed concurrently with the design of the plant improvements. It’s been a multi-pronged approach to help support the city as they make it through this transitional growth period. A lot of different teams and people are contributing to the full suite of services Garver is providing on this project.

Many of those services are based out of our College Station Water Design Center, where different disciplines and areas of expertise collaborate in one space to meet the needs of a project with efficiency and excellence. The treatment plant expansion design is the big effort, but we have a hand in many different areas. We’re designing it, we helped the owner procure a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) and we are acting as the CMAR contract manager, we’ll be providing construction administration, environmental work, survey, inspection – the whole gamut of what needs to be done. Garver is able to handle the full range of project delivery services and do it all under one roof with the help of our Design Center resources and dedicated local staff.

These kinds of plant expansion don’t come without a price, and capital project funding can be one of the greatest challenges any utility faces. So, Garver also supported the city in pursuing project funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA), as well as the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR)’s WaterSmart Reuse Grant Program.

As the City of Hutto, and others throughout central Texas, continue to experience rapid growth, the next major challenge facing these communities is water supply. Our team designed the upgraded plant to be able to produce reclaimed water of a high enough quality that it can be used for non-potable applications, such as irrigating golf courses and large parks. Looking to the future, another potential use is to take this high-quality effluent through another advanced treatment process and use as a potable water resource.

That’s an approach many central Texas cities are using to diversify their water supply portfolio and add resiliency. In central Texas, we have a lot of growth, but our water supplies are still limited, so it’s a common issue that communities are facing.

Garver has that expertise and specializes in working with high-growth utilities to develop innovative projects across the state. Cities like Pflugerville, Hutto, Sherman, Celina, and others are already recognizing that working with Garver means being able to “take a breath,” knowing we’ve helped position them so they no longer have to start the next phase of an expansion project before finishing the previous one. It’s all about developing a solid plan, and keeping the project moving forward to meet the schedule milestones set out in that plan.

The nature of this work is what allows Garver to provide opportunities for those looking to take the next step in their career. At Garver, we pride ourselves in being involved in so many different facets of the program – and through our Water Design Centers, we’re able to take the best experts in the field and bring them together to foster an environment rife with creativity, collaboration, and standards that allow us to take pride in our work.

Interested in working on innovative projects like this? See which opportunities are available at Garver Jobs.