The MDC serves eight member municipalities and four non-member towns in the greater Hartford area. The MDC has managed these water and sewer systems since 1929, and some of the area’s infrastructure dates back to the 1850s. By the 2000s, normal wet weather storm events were causing the MDC’s aging combined sewer system to become inundated by rainwater, overflowing wastewater into basements, neighborhood streets and/or waterways over 50 times in an average year. These overflows resulted in a US Environmental Protection Agency consent decree and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection consent order, which led to the initiation of the Clean Water Project.
The goal of the Clean Water Project is to capture all overflows in an average year, increasing public health, safety and quality of life of the Hartford area and dramatically improving the water quality of the Connecticut River. As MDC CEO Scott Jellison says, “The river provides economic development and growth and recreation for our citizens, so the Clean Water Project is the right thing for the MDC to do.”
The five major components of the Clean Water project are:
- Reducing infiltration and inflow that overloads the system
- Separating storm sewers from sanitary sewers
- Constructing storage tunnels to store excess wastewater until it can be treated
- Installing interceptor pipes to increase capacity
- Improving the Hartford treatment plant, including using excess heat to generate nearly 40% of the plant’s total electricity needs
CDM Smith serves as the program management consultant for the Clean Water Project, coordinating a wide variety of activities and projects. According to Jellison, “The MDC felt strongly that we needed a program manager that could oversee not only the planning and the execution of the engineering aspects, but planning all the aspects associated with the program, including our public outreach and our financial cash flow needs.” In this capacity, CDM Smith assists the MDC with concept development, engineering design, construction coordination, financial planning, consultant and contractor management, data analytics, and more.
CDM Smith brings capacity. They bring their technical expertise, no matter where that might be throughout the country. They bring financial expertise; they bring communications expertise; so they’re not just an engineering company.
In order to implement a smarter approach to monitoring and operating its water analytics process, the Hartford MDC is integrating innovative tools in its daily operations. Using intelligent water modeling and digital twins, real-time simulations of MDC’s system performance are calculated according to current weather and precipitation conditions. Discrepancies between the digital twin and actual response data reveal system-level or detailed statistics about the overflow events and locations, allowing staff to identify critical changes in system operations or performance.
These new capabilities are enabling more accurate facilities planning to meet the objectives of MDC’s Clean Water Project and, in turn, improving resiliency, risk management, and coordination in design of future capital improvement projects.
As an extension of the MDC’s staff, CDM Smith’s program management consultant Brian McCarthy works closely with his counterparts at the MDC to keep the Clean Water Project moving forward. As McCarthy puts it, “On this $2B program, there’s lots of moving parts, lots of moving pieces, and lots of players. My job is to helping make sense out of all that, synthesizing all the things that are going on into a coherent whole, so the MDC can make informed decisions and deliver the benefits they need to deliver to their constituents.”
CDM Smith and the MDC are working together to bring the Clean Water Project to successful completion by 2029. Because this project is vital to the quality of life and economic growth of the greater Hartford area, CDM Smith is bringing all its expertise to bear. Jellison says, “CDM Smith brings capacity. They bring their technical expertise, no matter where that might be throughout the country. They bring financial expertise; they bring communications expertise; so they’re not just an engineering company.”
McCarthy says, “Project delivery is a social activity, and we manage complexity by managing relationships. That’s really what gets the job done: people working together.”
Project delivery is a social activity, so what really gets the job done is people working together.
Engaging Public Support for Smarter Infrastructure
In 2012, voters in the MDC's eight member towns supported the second phase of the Clean Water Project by overwhelming referendum: a testament to the robust public outreach and engagement that accompanies this ambitious program.