The City of Somerset, Kentucky, and Bell Engineering were presented an Engineering Excellence Grand Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Kentucky for the City of Somerset Water Treatment Plant at the ACEC-KY reception held Wednesday, March 29, 2017 in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Bell Engineering and the City of Somerset began developing the project in 2005. At that time, the City had a variety of issues with the existing water treatment system. Rapid growth in the area meant the plant was quickly approaching its 10 mgd rated capacity. The City had also received a request to change its operational mode from a combination conventional/superpulsator to one treatment type. Finally, proposed regulations were going to impact Somerset’s ability to remain in compliance with the KYDOW.
Bell completed a feasibility study that projected demands through 2040 and determined a 16 mgd membrane filtration treatment plant with improvements at the existing site was the best solution. Membrane filtration offers a small footprint allowing the existing site to be utilized while also creating an absolute barrier to microbial contaminants. Bell worked with local and state representatives to secure funding including a $20,000,000 Rural Development (RD) Grant/Loan package making it the largest ARRA funded water project in the U.S. While Somerset is ineligible for RD funding, Bell determined that 80% of their process water is sold to customers outside the City limits, all of which are eligible to receive RD funds. This lowered the rate increase required to support the project, which was the first since 1993.
Construction of the project was difficult due to tight site conditions and Karst features including a large sinkhole. Site remediation was required to shore the foundation and ultimately the team was able to complete the new structures and re-purpose several existing structures while maintaining full treatment capacity. Finally, construction of the project began on the heels of the recession. This allowed the project not only to impact the water quantity/quality in the region, but also provided a substantial financial boost to the citizens of Somerset and Pulaski County.