I have always been perplexed as to why dispute boards are so rarely used on water/wastewater projects. They enjoy a long history of successful use on transportation projects—particularly tunneling projects and big-dollar design-build projects. Most transportation owners find dispute boards helpful, and it is clear that they provide the parties with a vehicle to get real-time resolution of project challenges. But it seems that water/wastewater owners and owner advisors don’t even give a thought (let alone a second thought) to considering the use of a dispute board when they put together their contracting approach for a non-tunneling project.
Most major construction projects in the water and wastewater industry have conventionally been delivered through a design-bid-build (DBB) method of delivery. However, collaborative project delivery (CPD) methods are being considered more frequently in the public sector because they can provide a variety of benefits over traditional delivery methods such as time and/or cost savings. It is important to recognize that these benefits sometimes come with trade-offs, such as reduced control or change in risk, so the pros and cons of each CPD method need to be weighed.
Compared to the traditional design-bid-build method, design-build delivery can accelerate design and construction schedules by 20% to 30%. Many cities and counties have implemented new fast-tracked permitting review processes to reduce the turnaround time for issuing permits, which are critical to maintaining the construction schedule.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused worldwide chaos, economic devastation, human loss, and widespread suffering for millions of people around the world. In spite of these challenges, progress must continue on design-build projects. This is especially important for critical infrastructure such as water/wastewater systems, transportation networks, and building construction. Managing design-build projects during a pandemic presents unique challenges and valuable lessons have been learned in the past few months of the “new normal.”
The idea of an integrated design management role for collaborative delivery projects is not a new one. For over 20 years, vertical commercial collaborative delivery projects have assigned an integrated design manager to drive seamless collaboration for overall project success. However, when describing this position in the water industry, the immediate response is, “What is an integrated design manager?”
The design-build delivery method demands people from various backgrounds, companies, and professional expertise work together to deliver a successful project that benefits the entire team—owners, contractors, and engineers alike. Leadership from all members of the team makes the difference in delivering great results; however, how does such a varied team ensure that each member contributes elite leadership? How does each member of the team be the best version of themselves and contribute the most?
In early 2017, the City of Goodyear, Arizona, initiated the procurement process for the implementation of a robust water management plan. On November 1, 2019, construction began on the new $129 million surface water treatment campus with an initial capacity of 8 mgd and future build-out to 16 mgd. The new surface water treatment facility will use state-of-the-art water treatment technology; maintain water quality and quantity for the citizens of Goodyear; and will allow the City to continue its aggressive pace of development and economic growth.
A standard design-build-operate (DBO) partnership in the water and wastewater market may include an operations company, a lead design engineering firm, and a contractor to complete the construction phase. Depending on the contractual arrangement, each organization is typically contractually bound to one another through the completion of the construction elements of the project, and in some cases this relationship extends into the steady-state, long-term operations and maintenance period. Given the complexity of these projects, the question arises: How does each company succeed in a DBO partnership?
The discussion on risk allocation and project contingency versus design-builder contingency has been well documented in several previous blogs. The WDBC Water and Wastewater Design-Build Handbook also provides excellent guidance on best practices for risk allocation. However, my recent experiences on current projects have led me to believe that, far too often, a project’s price, contingency, and schedule are adversely impacted by not addressing project risks with the right team members at the right time, and this topic is worthy of further discussion.
Today’s global infrastructure investment, estimated to be $2.5 trillion per year, falls short of the $3.3 trillion annual investment needed to keep pace with expected growth, not to mention renewal of existing aging infrastructure.