News May 6, 2020

Drinking Water Week: Houston Waterworks 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.

Houston Waterworks 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.


Here’s a closer look at our Houston Waterworks Team, (HWT) who are building a $1.77 billion plant in Houston, Texas. With an eagle-eye focus on BeyondZero, our design-build team recently achieved a major safety milestone.

Houston Waterworks Team Aerial Crane

In April, the HWT passed the interim milestone of 2 million work-hours with zero Lost Time Accidents. The team is well trained and structured to continue their proven safety performance to an anticipated 4-million work-hours mark and beyond. In addition to an exemplary safety record, the project is on-budget and on-time.

The project, a Joint Venture of Jacobs and CDM Smith, has more than 100 professionals working on site. Currently in the construction phase of the Northeast Water Purification Plant (NEWPP), the team has been delivering this project for more than four years, with five more years to go until the plant is completed.

“We are building the largest dollar progressive design-build drinking water treatment plant in the country, probably in the world,” says Jacobs Design-Build Director Greg Fischer. With more than 700 people working on the NEWPP Project site, and many more supporting the project from off-site in locations across the company, safety is paramount and at the heart of everything we do.”

The achievements on this project are the result of working daily with some of the water industry’s leading subcontractors, and the relationships the team has cultivated and contracted with many minority-owned, women-owned and small business enterprises. In recognition of these efforts, the HWT was awarded Contractor of the Year in the greater Houston area by the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity and the National Association of Minority Contractors.

The NEWPP will increase the City of Houston’s ability to provide reliable and safe drinking water by 320 million gallons per day. Besides supplying the Houston metro area with additional drinking water, the NEWPP Project is helping to reduce area subsidence by switching from groundwater sources for drinking water to surface water.

“During orientation training we tell workers that their parents, children and grandchildren will drink water from our plant,” shares HWT Project Manager Paul Vranesic. “We are very proud to be helping secure the drinking water supply for the Houston metro area for generations to come.”

They say everything’s bigger in Texas and this project is no exception. Here’s a look at NEWPP by the numbers:

  • Concrete: To build the water treatment facility, the project will use more than 200,000 cubic yards of reinforced concrete placed for treatment facility structures, with 40,000 cubic yards having been placed so far. At current construction pace, more than 2,000 cubic yards are placed by the team every week, using three ready mix companies, numerous pumper trucks, and a steady stream of concrete mixer trucks. We have fourteen cranes on the project site, all sorts of different types of cranes.
  • Designs: Through their 5,200 drawings and 1,000 details, the HWT team has designed infrastructure that includes over 5,500 instruments, 1,500 items of equipment and 9,000 valves. The project’s large diameter valves include three 120-inch butterfly valves and two 108-inch knife gate valves.
  • Pipeline: Of the 150,000 linear feet (LF) or buried underground pipelines, some 42,000 LF is already installed, most of which is large diameter. Much of the pipe is 108-inch diameter, large enough for a tall person to walk down full-height with a hard had on.
  • Pumps: There are 29 large capacity Vertical Turbine Pumps, ranging in size from 25 MGD to 75 MGD. Some of the pumps that will deliver this water across the Houston metro area are as big as 4,000 HP.
  • Centrifuges: The project has four, 44-inch diameter bowl centrifuges, the largest- in-the-world used for drinking water sludge thickening and dewatering.
  • Tractors: When the plant is put into operation, on average, 33 tractor trailer loads of dewatered solids will be trucked away from the plant every day.

“My thanks to the team for their personal commitment to safety, helping to ensure that everyone goes home safely every day, providing for their families and improving our community,” concludes Jacobs SVP Tom Price. “And my thanks to the rest of the Jacobs team for providing the support and assistance that we need to be able to deliver this world-class project successfully.”