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How Parametric and 3D Design Helped a Drought-Plagued Megacity Explore its Water Future

Between 2014 and 2015, the worst drought in a century affected every aspect of Brazilian livelihood – from coffee production to critical infrastructure and water services. What if we showed you how Jacobs’ Replica™ digital twins solutions software helped one Brazilian megacity visualize options for a more resilient future water supply?

Canateria Reservoir in drought

Whether you’re a year-round iced coffee devotee, can’t roll without cream and sugar or count down the days until Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes annual arrival – there’s no doubt coffee is loved worldwide. After all, we went through about 161 million 60-kilogram bags of it worldwide  last year.

According to a Reuters survey, Americans are drinking more coffee than ever. A survey from the Centre for Economics and Business Research found Brits drinking 25 million more cups per day than they were a decade ago. In Australia, one researcher highlighted how more Aussies are bonding over daily flat whites than craft beer.

Commercial coffee is produced by a small number of plants grown in just a few places around the world, and in 2014 and 2015, when the worst drought in a century plagued Brazil – one of the top global coffee producers – costs skyrocketed and rumors about running out of joe began to swirl.

As our global climate faces future uncertainty, the world’s coffee producers (and lovers!) could face even greater challenges – and in Brazil, coffee production is just one of its drought-influenced issues. São Paulo, one of Brazil’s largest cities, almost completely ran out of water during the 2014/15 drought.

But what if we showed you how Jacobs-designed digital twins solutions and software converged to help São Paulo explore options – in 3D – for a more resilient, drought-proof and secure future supply of another world-beloved beverage, water?

120+

process models within the Replica Parametric Design tool, enabling its use on water and wastewater projects worldwide

1K+

water treatment and conveyance projects on 6 continents during 20+ years

We continue to see benefits of our Replica Parametric Design platform, which allows our clients to get an early and accurate view of their projects. Because it is such a powerful tool, we can show them many options, very quickly, which allows them to understand tradeoffs and ultimately make very informed decisions. This increases their confidence in the project and aids in their ability to communicate to more stakeholders.”

Jason Curl
Jacobs Global Digital Twins Technology Leader

Introducing Replica Parametric Design™

Around the world, communities like São Paulo are working to sustainably manage water resources for a variety of needs. With population growth, aging infrastructure and climate risk, the management of water resources is becoming more complex. These complexities present challenges for municipalities and industries to manage water in a sustainable and economical way.

These challenges are exactly why Jacobs developed  Replica, our suite of digital twins solutions software, which is comprised of several tools. One of these unique tools is Replica Parametric Design software, which generates conceptual-level designs and cost estimates for municipal and industrial water and wastewater projects that facilitate sustainable and economical decision-making early in the project. By integrating the three main conceptual components of early project planning (facility design criteria and footprints, construction cost estimates and life cycle cost estimates) the tool provides a quicker and clearer picture of project scope and cost than traditional conceptual estimating techniques. From proposals to preliminary design, the tool streamlines the design development of concepts and facilitates making informed, defensible decisions that enable project advancement.

Exploring water reuse in São Paulo

Coffee fields Sao Paulo
Initial site layout
Final site layout after CPES session

Rainfall in late 2015 finally delivered relief to Brazil, bringing water levels in São Paulo’s largest reservoir, Cantareira, above pump level for the first time in more than a year and a half. Cantareira provides drinking water for nearly six million people – and the situation during the drought had become dire. Before relief came during its lowest point, the city had a scary-low 20 days of water supply left. As climate variability and urbanization change the landscape in Brazil, experts warn droughts and other extreme weather will only worsen in the future.

Exploring options to supplement its future potable water supplies, SABESP, the largest supplier of water and wastewater services in São Paulo, brought Jacobs in for a conceptual planning workshop for a direct potable reuse project.

Direct potable reuse is when highly purified recycled water is directly introduced into a public water system’s drinking water or raw water supply. Since there is no new water on Earth, all water goes through a natural cycle and is essentially recycled water before it is treated and returned to homes and businesses as drinking water. In recent decades though, forward-thinking organizations such as SABESP have looked to replicate nature more closely and on a more rapid scale, reclaiming water once viewed as waste and recycling it to augment water supplies.

During the workshop, SABESP used several Jacobs tools, including Replica Parametric Design, Replica Process™ and Replica Preview™ to explore the possibility of water reuse in the city. Plans for a reuse facility included coarse and fine screens, bioreactor, membrane bioreactor (MBR), reverse osmosis, ultraviolet disinfection and ultraviolet advanced oxidation processes, storage and finished water pumping to the potable distribution system. Our team developed a Replica Process model for the MBR portion of the facility, including fine screens, bioreactor and MBR. We then input information from this model into CPES and used that tool to develop models for the remaining unit processes. Then, using facility layouts and dimensions developed in Replica Parametric Design, we generated a 3D Replica Preview model and created a video of the 3D model to visualize the proposed layout.

Our Replica Preview tool uses algorithms to leverage the design parameters from the Replica Parametric Design files to automatically create accurate 3D renderings in the SketchUp software environment. These files can then be geo-located in Google Earth™ allowing project stakeholders to see what the future facility will look like.

São Paulo has an exciting opportunity to reclaim its water future and with Jacobs’ suite of parametric design tools, we enabled the development of a facility approach that could meet current and future needs with direct potable reuse and work within site constraints. One of SABESP’s wastewater technology managers even noted, “We have never seen such innovation, detailed planning and information developed in such a short time scale by any consultant.”

Designing the future with advanced understanding

With more than 120 process models, Replica Parametric Design can be used on nearly all water and wastewater projects worldwide for conceptual design, cost estimating and technology comparison. The software utilizes parametric engineering algorithms based on the successful implementation of previous projects to provide detailed and accurate scope, cost estimates and 3D visualizations for projects early in their lifespans.

Compared with traditional conceptual estimating techniques, our software yields a much quicker and clearer picture of the project’s unique scope and provides a Class 4 cost estimate to inform technical decision-making before investing in further detailed design. For each model, the tool outputs a 3D visualization of the facility layout based on general arrangement drawings derived from previous projects – supporting early stakeholder understanding and civil site layout.

Replica Parametric Design also produces lifecycle costs, energy usage and an environmental impact summary, which includes items like greenhouse gas emissions and truck traffic, for each project. The environmental impact summary is based on key construction quantities (e.g. concrete, steel, earthwork, etc.) as well as facility power, chemical and residuals consumption and/or generation. Early estimates of environmental impacts help to inform more sustainable water management decision‑making. We’ve used the software on a wide range of projects, from an aquifer replenishment system for a community rapidly diminishing its groundwater supply to a first-of-its-kind water treatment system in southwest Florida that blends three water sources together using the latest, large-scale treatment technologies.

Interested in learning more about how Jacobs transforms intangible ideas into intelligent solutions for a more connected, sustainable world? Visit www.jacobs.com/what-if.