Haskell team members recently took part in the groundbreaking ceremony at the Greenland Water Reclamation Facility in Duval County (Florida). The county’s first newly constructed water reclamation facility in in 45 years will reclaim treated wastewater for irrigation purposes rather than discharging it into natural wetlands or the St. Johns River.

April 22, 2022

Earth Day 2022 is a Moment to Look Holistically at Water Treatment

Whether it's drinking water, wastewater or stormwater, it's all the same. Proper handling always addresses quality, quantity, timing and/or distribution.


For more than 50 years, Earth Day has been held every April 22, marking a worldwide event to support environmental protection. For the leaders of Haskell’s Water Division, it’s an occasion to appreciate accomplishments and anticipate possibilities.

Even though 2022 finds the planet’s ecosystem under greater environmental stress than ever before, Bryan Bedell, Haskell Vice President and Water Division Leader, and Jason Kirk, Water Market Leader for the Eastern Region, expressed belief in the sustainable One Water concept and confidence that their team was making a measurable difference.

For example, two biosolid-waste-to-energy projects tell a single, uplifting story.

Biosolids are a natural byproduct of the wastewater treatment process. Historically, the tons of solid waste are dumped in a landfill or incinerated. But at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the Frederick-Winchester Service Authority Green Energy Facility in Virginia, modifications enabled the removal of siloxanes, hydrogen sulfide and other noxious substances to produce two highly desirable products:

  • Class AA biosolids that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for fertilizer.
  • Pipeline-quality natural gas that can burn in their generators for powering the plant.

“It started through a collaboration on how to optimize facilities to run more efficiently,” Bedell said. “In the instance of Winchester, the cost of upgrades we did were underwritten by the energy and cost savings they realized at the facility. Similarly, the City of St. Petersburg is seeing significant savings, both through energy savings and lower hauling costs because they’re making their own power and their biosolids costs dropped precipitously.”

The One Water Concept

These facilities exemplify the innovation is critical as governments and industry prepare for more frequent and significant hurricanes, floods, drought, water scarcity, sea-level rise and general climate uncertainty. And this with infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers assigns the following grades:

  • Drinking water – C
  • Wastewater – D+
  • Stormwater – D

These facilities also address the fact that the treatment of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater all boil down to simply the treatment of water. Whether it’s in the Western U.S., which is enduring the worst drought in more than 1,200 years, or other areas of the globe where so-called 1-in-100-year floods are happening so often that the term may change, a holistic One Water approach is the key to reversing deteriorating environmental trends.

“The One Water concept is that all the water we're ever going to have on the earth is already here,” Bedell said. “There is no more water. Both the east and the west of the U.S. need to lean into that.

“Each specific project that we do across the country is an opportunity to better treat water in the entirety of the lifecycle. It may be a drinking water facility for potable use. It may be a wastewater facility to clean it so it can be returned to the environment. Then the third piece that we're starting to do and has the potential for direct potable reuse, where we're cleaning up the water that’s been through a wastewater plant to be able to be consumable again.

“The big takeaway is that we’re looking at water from the holistic view that it's not a drinking water problem, not a wastewater problem, not a stormwater problem. It's just a water problem.”

Quality, Quantity, Timing and Distribution

Before joining Haskell in 2018, Kirk, the Eastern Water Market Leader, retired from the U.S. Army as Colonel, having served as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville, Florida, District Commander. In that role, he not only authored Climate Change: Considerations for Geographic Combatant Commands, he led the federal portion of the federal-state Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), the world’s largest aquatic ecosystem restoration project.

CERP projects, Kirk said, will improve either the quality, quantity, timing or distribution (QQTD) of water – or a combination thereof. Those factors apply in the One Water world as a whole.

“The problem set and ultimately the solution in public works infrastructure is the same, whether it's the larger-scale systems, water resources and infrastructure managed by the state water management districts or the Army Corps of Engineers, or it's more local infrastructure managed by cities, their public works departments and their utilities,” he said. “As you manage water, you're always addressing the quality for the environment and people's consumption, the quantity for environmental benefits and people's consumption, and the timing and distribution, which is about getting the right amounts of water to the right places at the right time – in a growing season for agriculture or a nesting season or wildlife or for people’s recreation.”

The variety of Haskell projects to which Bedell refers buttress those points:

  • The Fort Pierce Utilities Authority wastewater treatment plant is moving off the Indian River Lagoon, where it's been for 62 years, and being constructed at the Treasure Coast Energy Center because of saltwater intrusion hazards. Issues: Quality and quantity
  • The City of Jacksonville’s (Florida) LaSalle Street Drainage Improvements project will include an upgraded pump station with outfall into the St. Johns River. Currently in the early design phase, it will address urban drainage challenges in the historic San Marco district. Issues: Timing and distribution
  • Supporting EIP Florida Water Quality, LLC in its nutrient removal project in the Lower Kissimmee Basin Stormwater Treatment Area (STA), which helps offset the adverse effects of agricultural land uses on water quality that lead to algal blooms and other adverse outcomes. The project is one of many South Florida Water Management District projects that will benefit Lake Okeechobee and, by extension, the Everglades and the east and west coast estuaries. Issues: Quality
  • A project for a confidential client in Central Florida to remove 1-4 dioxane addressed the growing concern about emerging contaminants such as so-called “forever chemicals,” such as cancer-causing PFA and PFOS, which do not break down in the environment and build up in water supplies. Issue: Quality
  • State-mandated capacity upgrades at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility in St. Petersburg, separate from the biosolid project, overhauled a citywide sewage system overwhelmed during rain events in 2015 and 2016. Issues: Timing and distribution
  • The Greenland Water Reclamation Facility, the first newly constructed water reclamation facility in Duval County (Florida) in 45 years, will reclaim treated wastewater for irrigation purposes rather than discharging it into natural wetlands or the St. Johns River. Issues: Quantity and quality

In Southeast Jacksonville, JEA's "H2.0 Purification Demonstration Project" will diversify the quantity of water supply in Northeast Florida, further validating innovative technology that enables recharging the aquifer with purified reclaimed water that exceeds drinking water standards. Issues: Quality and quantity

The ‘How’ of Water Infrastructure

Each of these projects addresses water from a different angle and produces a different outcome. The two constants are that each addresses One Water, and each benefits from one of Haskell’s methods of integrated project delivery, be it Design-Build, Progressive Design-Build (PDB) or Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR). Each is suited to the critical and immediate need for infrastructure, as they are effective in expediting design and construction of critical projects and maximizing the dollars invested.

Haskell is a pioneer in Design-Build delivery, in which the project owner signs one contract with one entity to provide architectural, engineering and construction services. Once considered an alternative delivery method, Design-Build now accounts for 44 percent of all construction spending.

The reasons for design-build’s growing popularity are numerous:

  • It includes a single party accepting the contractual responsibility, and risk, for completion of both design and construction.
  • It shortens delivery schedules by expediting design and construction procurement; allowing early release of long-lead materials and equipment, which mitigates cost escalation; phasing design and construction so that activities take place concurrently rather than sequentially; and eliminating change orders through close collaboration.
  • It allows the identification of cost early in design as opposed to after completing design, which lets the project team to respond accordingly should a project be over or under budget.
  • It eliminates the contractual barriers of conventional delivery, which leads to enhanced collaboration and innovation, resulting in schedule, cost and client-experience benefits. 
  • It creates an environment in which technology can be maximized, producing improved results in schedule, cost and client experience benefits. 

Progressive Design-Build (PDB) is a phased, or progressive, application of the design-build delivery method. The owner selects the design-builder based on qualifications or best-value selection, then together they work toward a design and contract price. The design-builder delivers the project in two distinct phases: Phase 1 includes pricing-level design development, preconstruction services and the negotiation of a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) for Phase 2, which comprises final design, construction and commissioning.

In CMAR delivery method, the designer works directly for the project owner, who benefits from incorporating a contractor’s perspective and input during design and planning. This arrangement allows the owner to maintain a direct contractual tie to the designer but benefit from early integration and collaboration with the builder to drive innovation and creativity.

“Everybody in this market plays in design-build, and everybody plays in Construction Manager at Risk. But that’s all we do. We don't do hard-bid work. We're more nimble, and we're more capable to be able to rapidly respond to projects throughout from beginning to end.

“On every single job, we bring value during preconstruction through our experience, through our good ideas, through our ability to conceptually estimate accurately. Given the injection of funding that's coming through the infrastructure package, we're in a good position to help owners to be able to best utilize those dollars because we can respond so quickly.”

The Haskell Team

The talent and know-how start at the top with Bedell and Kirk, but it extends deep into the organization.

It’s there at the project management level, with Directors of Project Development and Project Managers, such as Mike Hoisington, who quarterback each project.

It’s there throughout an outstanding team of Project Superintendents, such as Frankie McGee, who make magic out of the chaos of the jobsite.

It’s there throughout the corps of Permanent Craft Employees (PCEs) who expedite excellence with their self-perform skillsets.

And it’s there throughout brilliant designers, engineers and technological support teams that create elegant and efficient solutions to complex environmental challenges.

“We're leaning in heavily on the use of technology in the water industry,” Bedell said. “We're well positioned in that all of our people are trained to be able to be creative. Everybody's empowered to be creative. Often, firms will do something because that’s how they've always done them, but that’s going to provide a historical solution. We provide the best and the most relevant solution, not the historical solution.”

Contact Haskell’s Water Team to discuss applying its deep understanding and extensive breadth of resources to solve pressing infrastructure needs.

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,000 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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