Wright-Pierce Wins Excellence Award

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Maine presented Wright-Pierce with an Honor Award for the Falmouth, Maine Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) upgrade project at the recent annual 2009 Engineering Excellence Awards ceremony.

The Honor Award recognizes engineering firms for projects that epitomize quality, innovation, value, and client satisfaction.

The Falmouth facility was an aging wastewater treatment facility located on an environmentally sensitive site in a fast growing coastal area in Southern Maine. In order to accommodate residential and commercial growth and address increasingly stringent discharge standards, a system upgrade was required. This posed significant environmental challenges because the facility is in the Casco Bay watershed, one of the 28 "Estuaries of National Significance" as designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The site was restricted by coastal wetlands on three sides and a vernal pool on the fourth, making expansion difficult. In addition, the sensitivity of the discharge location into Casco Bay required careful consideration of Department of Environmental Protections (DEP) standards and how the upgrade design would address them, as well as make provisions for the increasingly stringent standards anticipated for the future.

Wright-Pierce conceived a design that incorporated significant existing infrastructure into the new treatment scheme saving the town high construction costs and capitalizing on past investments. The new treatment system employs an anaerobic-anoxic-oxic process with a biological selector designed to improve present day water quality characteristics and provide for advanced nutrient removal.

Treated effluent efficiency has improved by 40 percent, and nutrient removal is meeting the design goals of 8 mg/L total nitrogen and 1 m/L phosphorous. Space has been preserved within the process configuration to allow for easy expansion should more stringent requirements be established in the long term. The upgraded facility is one of only a few advanced treatment facilities in Maine positioned to meet future nutrient discharge standards.

The upgrades also have reduced monthly electrical consumption on average by 40 percent. In addition, this $7-million facility was constructed under the original contractors bid price.

"The Falmouth WPCF upgrade project is a success story. It's a municipal project that has incorporated sustainable design elements that have resulted in operational costs savings." states Paul Birkel, vice president and principal-in-charge of the Falmouth project.

Wright-Pierce is a New England based, engineering firm specializing in water, wastewater, and infrastructure services.

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