Innovation Results in $300 Million in Savings for South Florida Water Utility

Published on by in Case Studies

Innovation Results in $300 Million in Savings for South Florida Water Utility

Through technology innovation and a sustainable and forward-thinking design approach, Black & Veatch has helped the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) achieve more than $300 million capital and operations and maintenance savings at the county’s wastewater treatment plants as part of the Ocean Outfall Legislation (OOL) Program.

For nearly a decade, WASD has been working on many capital improvement projects associated with the OOL Program, which requires utilities in Southeast Florida to eliminate by the end of 2025 the use of existing ocean outfalls for discharges of treated wastewater. As a result, the program will reduce nutrient discharges to the ocean while promoting water reuse. The focus of WASD’s approach on required improvements at its wastewater treatment plants has been on maximizing benefits while minimizing the financial impact on Miami-Dade County residents.

“The savings we’ve been able to obtain for the OOL Program are a direct result of the work of talented engineers and other dedicated WASD staff,” said Roy Coley, director of the Miami-Dade WASD. “These $300 million serve as a testament that recruiting and retaining top water-sector talent pays off for our customers in the long run.”

A key focus of the creative and sustainable design approach was on WASD’s power backup and energy management systems deployed at its South District Wastewater Treatment Plant, where power backup systems relied on low-speed generators. After evaluation, Black & Veatch recommended the use of more reliable and cost-effective high-speed generators. EPA Tier 4 certified, these generators enhance sustainability by reducing carbon emissions and saving on overall energy costs. The conversion highlights more than $230 million in capital and annual operational cost savings to WASD.

Additionally, more than $70 million in savings was achieved as a result of a pilot study testing innovative filtration technologies and backed by a $1 million investment from WASD. The study demonstrated that a newer, more cost-effective filtration technology would comply with OOL Program requirements and enhance system sustainability.

“Black & Veatch has continually provided innovative ideas for solving Miami-Dade WASD’s challenges,” said Marisela Aranguiz, deputy director of the Miami-Dade WASD. “They think outside of the box and deliver innovative solutions that result in cost and schedule savings while meeting the desires of the operations staff.”

For Black & Veatch, opportunities such as the OOL Program represent opportunities to drive innovation and help clients achieve their performance objectives in a sustainable fashion.

“Programs such as our Water Innovation Platform have provided an environment to develop leading edge concepts for clients and help them optimize their operations,” said Rafael Frias, Black & Veatch associate vice president and Southeast U.S. Regional Manager. “We are very pleased that through our innovative thinking we’ve been able to help WASD implement sustainable solutions and receive added value through significant cost savings that benefit its customers, county residents and the environment.”