Water Environment Federation (WEF)

Managing a Florida Wastewater Design-Build Project in the Face of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma

The Design-Build (DB) delivery method for wastewater and water projects offers several distinct advantages to municipal utilities. Key considerations include schedule compression and singlesource responsibility for the design, construction, and project commissioning. Okaloosa County (Florida) had completed a design-build project for a new municipal services building in 2004 with great success, and the Water and Sewer Department (OCWS) saw that the advantages of a successful design-build project could be applied to the new planned 10 million gallon per day (MGD) water reclamation facility. The County retained a Design Criteria Professional (DCP) and a Program Manager (PM) to develop not only the project-specific design criteria, but also the Request for Qualifications (RFQ), the Request for Proposals (RFP), the opinion of probable project costs, and to provide ongoing technical support through design and construction phases. As the project proceeded, a series of well-documented hurricanes impacted Florida in general, but also Okaloosa County located in the states panhandle. The severity of this series of hurricanes had an almost immediate affect on the prices of labor, concrete, and structural steel. In order to manage the budgeted resources, OCWS, the PM, and the DCP worked closely to identify cost-saving measures to ensure that their wastewater treatment needs would not be adversely impacted.

The Design-Build (DB) delivery method is an effective approach for project execution by municipal utilities. Project Owners should review their specific needs for any given assignment relative to its applicability for the Design-Build approach, and understand the benefits offered as well as the associated risks. The three counter-balancing elements of DB are:

  • Competitiveness
  • Innovation
  • Liability.

A project Owner can realize certain benefits for their project by striking the proper balance of these elements for a specific project, and by understanding the prevailing market conditions for the design and construction services required. Oftentimes, an Owner is looking to take advantage of schedule compression techniques, or obtaining single-source responsibility for their project.

Figure 1 depicts recent DB trends and predicted future market conditions for the DB project delivery method. By the year 2010 the DB approach is anticipated to surpass the traditional Design-Bid-Build (DBB) project delivery method for non-residential construction in the U.S.

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