Pflugerville Water Treatment Plant

Project Background

The city of Pflugerville, TX, initiated a water treatment plant expansion that will nearly double the plant’s capacity. When the three-year project is complete, the plant’s treatment capacity will expand from 17 million gallons per day to 30 million. This expansion will allow the city to keep up with rapid population growth and projected demands through 2040.

 The city selected HVJ to provide advanced materials testing and geotechnical design engineering for the expansion.

Practice: Geotechnical Engineering and Construction Materials Testing

Sector:  Water

Location: Pflugerville, TX

Services: Materials Testing, Inspection and Recommendations


The Problem

Several unexpected challenges have come up throughout the initial phases of the project:

  • Excessive Soil Moisture: The soil needed to be compacted to a certain level for construction, but we encountered unexpected moisture that resulted in non-optimal soil compaction for construction. The extra moisture means the soil particles were not pressed together tightly, creating space between them and resulting in sub-optimal conditions for construction. These conditions can happen due to the uniqueness of the soil in the area or events like heavy rainfall. Waiting for the moisture to naturally dry out would significantly delay construction.

  • Simultaneous Drilling: The project operated multiple drill rigs concurrently, all of which required our on-site observation. Thus, we needed additional team members on-site to ensure we could adequately monitor all project activities.

  • Concrete Materials Testing: A concern arose about the quality of concrete from certain structures. To address this, we needed to perform materials testing that required drilling into the concrete. However, this was not straightforward due to the presence of reinforcing steel in the structures, into which we could not drill. We needed a partner with technology to scan the structure to find suitable drilling locations.

The Goal

Our team needed to use their industry expertise and experience to provide advanced testing and reliable recommendations to keep the project moving forward as challenges arose. Achieving this goal required regular, transparent communication and a cohesive, collaborative project team. 

Our Solution

We collaborated hand-in-hand with other teams to develop solutions to the challenges. Solutions included:

  • Soil Moisture Guidelines: We enabled the construction team to overcome the problem of excess soil moisture by consulting with various project stakeholders and then developing guidelines for managing the soil moisture issues. Our plan kept the project moving forward, ensuring the soil would enable safe, quality construction.
  • Drilling Observation Capacity: We increased our on-site team members to simultaneously observe and monitor multiple drill rigs, enhancing project efficiency. 
  • Concrete Materials Testing: We partnered with a company that had the equipment to non-invasively scan the concrete structures for reinforced steel, which allowed us to obtain a sample and perform advanced testing without drilling into the steel. This information was critical in allowing the city to decide how to move forward.

The Results

We are about mid-way through the project, and so far, it has been running smoothly and on time, even in the face of unexpected challenges. Our role has been to go beyond simply providing testing data/results to give input and guidance for a workable solution. In a project of this magnitude, unexpected challenges will inevitably arise. Keeping the project moving forward has required close collaboration and communication with all disciplines involved. We particularly enjoy working on projects that positively impact communities and appreciate all that goes into maintaining the infrastructure necessary for a city’s growth.    




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