CMS: Trends, Developments, and A Special Project

MWH Constructors’ Northeast Regional Manager
Anthony Accardi Talks Trends in CMS


What major new developments, or trends, have you seen taking place in CMS nationally and in your region?
In the public sector, we are starting to see the emergence of alternative delivery being discussed and used more and more both nationally and throughout the region. The days of design-bid-build dominance is winding down, opening up the doors to more collaborative delivery methods like construction management at-risk (CMAR) and progressive design-build. For example, water and wastewater treatment plant upgrades throughout the Northeast, and two large terminal expansion projects at O’Hare airport will all be delivered via the CMAR delivery method. We are also seeing an increase in the development of agency-specific project delivery standard, operating procedures, and implementation of capital program management systems. This requires construction mangers to be well versed in the current state of the practice and flexible to adapt to their client agency’s approach.

What innovations or trends do you see taking place in the coming year or two?
There will be a rise in the use of sustainable practices throughout the infrastructure market. We have started to see this with the increase in the coupling of energy components to broader infrastructure projects by public agencies. This has included supplying a micro-grid through standby emergency power generation systems, greater capture of energy contained in wastewater solids and gas, and dedication of large surface areas found in treatment plants, transit hubs, municipal garages, etc. to supplemental photovoltaic energy production. Another trend we are seeing is the rise of the robots – drones or unmanned aerial vehicles.  As the costs to do business in our industry continues to rise, the efforts to condense construction schedules and reduce costs will expand, opening the doors to new technology. The use of drones will increase over the coming years and expand on their current use in 3D mapping, photos, and relay of data/video in real time increasing efficiency.

Where do you see the most growth happening in the sector in the next few years? What areas do you see the biggest opportunities coming up regionally and nationally?
The modernization of aging infrastructure will continue to demand capital investment. Additionally, as severe weather pounds our coastal communities, water and wastewater treatment facilities are often hard hit and require substantial repairs. These same facilities may need “hardening” to minimize damage caused by future storms. Regionally, the Northeast will continue to see a dramatic increase in combined sewer overflow (CSO) related projects.  Reducing CSO discharge is key to continuing the water quality improvement observed in New York Harbor, Long Island Sound and the Hudson River. Additionally, air and rail modernization, reliability and expansion projects will continue to dominate the transportation sector throughout the Northeast.

What are the market drivers?
Market drivers include increasing “urbanization” of our society, which puts added pressure on city infrastructure, as well as climate change and extreme weather events. These will help expand regulatory drivers to protect receiving waters from CSO discharge, hardening and resiliency to protect critical infrastructure from adverse conditions, and the ever increasing demand on aging and overcapacity infrastructure.

What is one of the most significant/interesting CMS projects that MWH Constructors is working on currently?
Working in historic Cambridge Massachusetts, to resolve major wet infrastructure problems–which at times had sewage-laden water flowing over the streets and threatening drinking water supplies–was a 13-year journey for MWH Constructors that has concluded with an increased quality of life for the client and community.

The Alewife Wetlands Restoration Project improves water quality in the Alewife Brook and the Mystic River as part of a $120 million Combined Sewer Overflow control initiative that improves both sanitary and storm drainage levels of service for 400 acres of an extremely densely populated area of Cambridge while also militating against flooding impacts to downstream communities.

While designing a sewer separation project that was a component of the Boston Harbor Cleanup program, MWH engineers quickly realized that directly discharging separated urban stormwater runoff to a shallow and friable local water body, while better than a CSO discharge, would still create water quality and flooding impacts.

MWH planned, designed and provided construction management services on the hybrid solutions including intelligent hydraulic controls and combinations of grey and green infrastructure solutions that maximize reuse of the existing infrastructure while minimizing costs and construction impact on the community. The team provided drainage system analyses that utilize Low Impact Development (LID) controls to meet runoff reduction and water quality goals in the area.

Before the project was able to proceed, it needed to obtain regulatory approval, and overcome a protracted legal challenge initiated by local activists. The comprehensive effort indispensably supported by the MWH team was able to achieve consensus and obtain the needed social license. The critical success factor was a key component of the project that delivers a significant environmental benefit: a 3.5-acre stormwater management wetland that stores and treats stormwater runoff before it enters a local river, effectively serving as an ecologic, man-made filtering system that reduces stormwater flow, allows sediment to settle, and removes nutrients and pollutants from the water. This thriving wetland area includes half a dozen distinct wetland habitats including riparian woodland, shrub swamp, emergent marsh, wet meadow and open water.

A new urban oasis was sculpted out of a 3.5-acre degraded forest/wetland area. It contains walkways that meander through the re-vegetated area, which is populated with more than 100,000 native wetland plants and 3,800 upland plants. Educational placards inform visitors about these as well as some of the fauna that now call the area home. An added benefit is that residents have been able to learn firsthand that stormwater treatment can actually help the environment. In fact, local agencies have called the Alewife Wetlands project an “Environmental Miracle.”

Our client has said, “It is a marvel to see our work expressed in such an elegant way and able to create a unique community benefit, instead of being buried in pipes and structures.”

For more information on this project, check out this video:

icon-facebook icon-instagram icon-linkedin icon-phone icon-search icon-twitter icon-youtube