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$90M Job Heralds Cleaner Water for Massachusetts

Wed May 10, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Walt Heithaus


In late 1999, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) awarded an $89.4-million contract to design and build a 434-million-liter (115 million gal.) water storage tank on a 6.9-hectare (17 acre) site at Norumbega Reservoir, Weston, MA.

The contract was awarded to Norumbega Contractors, a joint venture of J.F. White Contracting Company and Slattery Skanska Inc., with Metcalf and Eddy Inc. and Weidlinger Associates as major participants.

A spokeswoman for Skanska, the Sweden-based $8-billion construction giant, said work on the Norumbega tank will start in mid-summer 2000. More than 61,165 cubic meters (80,000 cu. yds.) of concrete and some 5,400 metric tons (6,000 tons) of reinforcing bars will be used in its construction.

The Norumbega tank is one of five being built to bring MWRA in compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines which no longer permit open-air storage of Boston’s drinking water. The tanks are designed to preserve drinking water quality and eliminate the risk of surface water runoff and airborne contamination to which open reservoirs are susceptible.

In 1997, John P. DeVillars, the EPA’s New England administrator, took legal action to protect the two million residents served by the MWRA’s water system. DeVillars obtained a court order which required the MWRA to construct the five tanks, build a drinking water filtration plant, and acquire additional acreage that would protect the Wachusett Reservoir, a critical drinking water source.

“The MWRA water system has been consistently out of compliance,” DeVillars said. “A key element of the MWRA strategy for coming into compliance — increased chlorination — has been linked to cancer risks. Filtration and watershed protection offer a more prudent and more certain path to what should be a fundamental right … safe, healthy drinking water.”

MWRA responded with its Integrated Water Supply Improvement (IWSI) program, a 10 year, $1.7-billion effort which, in addition to the storage tanks, includes construction of the 28-kilometer (17.6 mi.) MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel, the Walnut Hill Water Treatment Plant in Marlborough, Watershed Protection and pipeline rehabilitation.

“The construction of the Norumbega tank is a key link in MWRA’s IWSI program, designed to ensure our high quality drinking water remains safe all the way to the customer’s tap,” said MWRA Executive Director, Douglas B. MacDonald.

“When the major components of the program are completed in 2004, water treated at the new plant in Marlborough will be delivered to customers in a closed system of pipes and tanks without being exposed to contamination from birds, animals or the atmosphere,” he explained.

MWRA has hired the engineering firm of Malcolm Pirnie Inc. to serve as its own representative and oversee the work of the design/build contractor.




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