Program management system helps CSO project move smoothly
The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) is implementing a solution known as the Lower Mill Creek Partial Remedy (LMCPR), designed to remove approximately 1.78 billion gal of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) annually by the end of 2018 from Mill Creek, an Ohio River tributary. This sustainable, integrated watershed solution will not only improve water quality, but also serve as a catalyst to improve neighborhoods in the heart of Hamilton County, Ohio. The LMCPR program includes 20 projects in the Lick Run, West Fork, Kings Run and Bloody Run watersheds—all part of a consent decree mandated by the U.S. EPA, which requires substantial completion by Dec. 31, 2018.
Key in the program is the Lick Run Project in the Lower Mill Creek watershed, where MSD is constructing 12 projects that are expected to eliminate nearly 400 million gal of CSOs annually and ensure that 88% of the flows during a typical year of rain either will go to the Mill Creek treatment plant or discharge as storm water into Mill Creek. It is a huge undertaking, unlike anything MSD has ever done, and it already has required the utility to rethink its existing processes and technologies to maintain the tight schedule.
The Lick Run Greenway project corridor features a 1.5-mile-long constructed surface waterway.
Along the Lick Run
The central element of MSD’s Lick Run Project is the Lick Run Greenway located in the West Cincinnati neighborhood of South Fairmount. The greenway is designed to convey storm water and surface drainage from the watershed to Mill Creek through a hybrid conveyance system consisting of a 1.5-mile-long subsurface concrete box conduit and a 1-mile-long constructed surface waterway designed to mimic a natural stream. Once complete, the system will reduce the volume of storm water entering the combined sewer system, thus reducing CSOs into Mill Creek and reducing the amount of wastewater treated at the Mill Creek treatment plant.
The project also will include:
- Wetland forebay and rain gardens along old Queen City Avenue;
- Headwaters park at the beginning of the bioengineered stream with off-street parking;
- An improved recreational area, including a new playground and basketball courts, a concrete stage area overlooking the stream, a children’s spray park, picnic shelters, a pedestrian bridge over the stream, and off-street parking;
- A large detention pond at the eastern end of the project; and
- Multi-use paths with lighting throughout the corridor.
Once completed, the project also will offer an improved recreation area.
Given the large and complex nature of the Lick Run Greenway project and its location in a dense urban environment, coupled with an aggressive schedule to meet the federal consent decree deadline, MSD knew coordination was critical to the success of the program. Over more than seven years, there have been numerous public meetings and workshops with stakeholders and the local community to obtain regulator consent and buy-in from the community.
There currently are dozens of pieces of heavy equipment and up to eight construction crews working on the site on any given day, in addition to several major third-party utility companies working on utility relocations for overhead and buried electrical services, fiber optic cables, gas lines and major water mains. Because MSD has been managing the consent decree program for nearly a decade, it already had developed detailed procedures for many of the design- and construction-related processes. These are documented in the master program management plan.
“Our existing processes, while effective, were not scalable for a project of this size,” said Pat Arnette, deputy director of engineering for MSD.
This project is the largest construction project awarded and managed by MSD. It sought to implement a centralized system to communicate, track and report the progress of each element with the construction manager, general contractor and design engineer.
At project outset, each member of the team had a different method for tracking approvals and review. Ensuring that all facets of this team could be integrated, communication and information flow was important.
Early on, Stantec recommended the team use e-Builder as its centralized enterprise-wide project management information system (PMIS). MSD did not have a system like this, but Arnette and his team recognized the need for one.
Inside the Communication Hub
The PMIS solution provided a central hub for information and communication. Since its integration, the centralized system has resulted in enhanced productivity toward successful delivery of the project. Stantec and MSD incorporated it to map the current procedures and streamline the submission, review and disposition of submittals, requests for information (RFIs), change requests, and other construction administration-related processes during the project.
MSD policies and procedures required a degree of paper-based coordination methods. RFIs and change orders, for instance, are mailed or emailed to a centralized group and then hand-walked for review or signatures. It was a challenge to establish a streamlined automated solution that was compliant with MSD’s policies and guidelines in terms of documentation and ensure that all documents also were sent to the MSD document management system for archiving.
With the streamlined process established, Stantec designed custom business intelligence reports and dashboards within e-Builder to track key performance indicators (KPIs), which now are used to demonstrate performance and identify potential obstacles before they cause delays. There currently are 18 regular users on the account, with many other contributors from the construction management, design and contracting teams.
The RFI processes have helped reduce the average RFI processing time from 13 days to five days, and reduced submittal processing time from 27 days to 11 days. The team is steadily improving performance and processes that will allow them to mitigate risks.
“We have already seen it pay off in productivity and are using this as a pilot to assess the potential use of e-Builder program-wide in future,” Arnette said.
MSD, the construction management team and the general contractor are working collectively to achieve substantial completion of this project by the consent decree deadline. Construction of the Lick Run Greenway began in early July 2017. The project is scheduled to be substantially complete by December 2018 to meet the requirements of the consent decree. Final completion is planned for late 2021 after allowing two years for plant establishment and vegetation. As construction progresses, the next step will be to use the data for enhanced reporting and further development of KPIs and dashboards for gauging performance and efficiency.
“The automation provided by e-Builder and the process changes we’ve implemented are going to go a long way towards ensuring an on-time delivery of this project,” Arnette said.