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Drinking Water Week: Cedar Water Treatment Facility Team

As we celebrate Drinking Water Week, May 3 – 9, 2020, we’re highlighting how Jacobs is making this year’s theme, “It is there when you need it,” a reality through our projects and team of dreamers, makers and doers.

As we celebrate Drinking Water Week, May 3 – 9, 2020, we’re highlighting how Jacobs is making this year’s theme, “It is there when you need it,” a reality through our projects and team of dreamers, makers and doers.

In this article, explore the 20-year partnership between Jacobs and Seattle Public Utilities at the Cedar Water Treatment Facility.

A cleaner way to clean water

When more than a million Seattleites turn a faucet knob for their clear, high-quality treated water, they might be unaware of the planning, vision and labor that brought that precious resource to their glass, water bottle or recipe.

A public-private partnership spanning 20 years between Jacobs and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) created the Cedar Water Treatment Facility, which went on line in 2004 and produces 70 % of the water supply for Washington’s largest metropolitan area. SPU and Jacobs collaborated to design, build and operate upgrades to the 180-million-gallon-per-day water plant. Our agreement and delivery strategy were pioneering in their time, and our mutual focus on sustainability added another element of vision to the project.

Cedar is a showcase for forward-thinking environmental enhancements. Designers re-used some buildings and equipment from the original water facilities on the site. The former treatment plant is now the chlorination facility, and pipelines onsite are now ozone-contact chambers. Cedar’s operations building is certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold level facility. It includes design elements that save energy, mitigate resource use and minimize environmental impact. 

Jacobs Cedar Project Manager John Wesely shares, “The repurposed facilities have their challenges, but a lot of good has come of our mutual focus on environmental stewardship, and the plant design has stood the test of time.”

John and his team have continued the commitment to eco-efficiency, collaborating with SPU to install LED lighting and motion-sensor switches throughout the plant that curb energy use. This measure helped our client earn efficiency rebates.

And the partnership itself is a success, with continued renewals of the operations agreement and a similarly forward-thinking strategy that calls for managing risks and sharing rewards. “It’s much more than a contract relationship,” says John. “We’re working toward a common goal.”

Necessity drives creativity as Cedar team handles COVID-19 response

John and his team have also answered the challenge of keeping Seattle’s water supply flowing while responding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As things unfolded with the pandemic, it was clear we needed another operator,” John recalls.

He arranged to transfer an operator to Cedar’s staff from a Jacobs project in California, but his operator certification wasn’t recognized in Washington. John worked with the State of Washington to establish a temporary operator certification until state-sponsored testing sites reopen and he’s able to take the certification exam.

He and the Cedar team also have adjusted work schedules and applied technology to support their ability to sustain operations under these extraordinary circumstances. “It’s not what happens, but how you respond to it, that counts,” he says.

Related terms: COVID-19, COVID, Coronavirus

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