Houston Northeast Water Purification Plant Expansion Project

The Houston Waterworks Team (HWT), a joint venture of Jacobs and CDM Smith, has successfully completed Phase 1 of the $1.8 billion Northeast Water Purification Plant (NEWPP) Expansion Project for the City of Houston.

This mammoth project – the largest progressive design-build project of its kind in the U.S. – is necessary to not only meet the growth needs of the greater Houston metropolitan area, but also to future-proof the city’s water supplies.

By moving the raw water source to surface water from the nearby Lake Houston, the NEWPP Expansion Project will reduce the region’s use of groundwater from 70% to 40%. This will help to reduce area subsidence, protect the city from future floods and provide sustainable water resources for many years to come.

Built on a 90-acre site adjacent to the existing plant, the NEWPP Expansion Project is being delivered in two phases. Phase 1 increases the production capacity of the NEWPP by 80 million gallons per day (mgd), from its current 80 mgd capacity to 160 mgd. Phase 2 increases the overall facility production capacity to 400 mgd.

In December 2023, HWT completed Phase 1 of the project, is conducting interim operations, and will shortly turn over operations to the City of Houston. Construction and commissioning work continues on Phase 2, which is scheduled to be completed by HWT in 2025.

HWT was responsible for designing and constructing the new water facility, as well as start-up, commissioning and interim operations activities. HWT’s delivery team drew upon decades of shared experience delivering major water infrastructure projects to incorporate innovative solutions into this massive and complex project, including treatment of challenging and “flashy” water quality conditions from Lake Houston and designing a smaller facility footprint to preserve space on the available property for future facility expansions. The sheer scale of the project also required remarkable engineering, including the world’s largest centrifuges for drinking water sludge thickening and dewatering.

HWT also designed and constructed a new raw water intake pump station (IPS) facility 1,000 feet off-shore into Lake Houston, founded on driven piles. The IPS includes lake intake piping and screens, vertical turbine pumps and conveyance facilities to withdraw raw water from Lake Houston and deliver it about 1.5 miles away to the NEWPP Expansion Project site. The twin raw water pipes are 108-inch diameter, large enough for a tall person to walk down full-height with a hard had on.

The progressive design-build approach facilitated close collaboration between the city and HWT. HWT successfully kept the project on-budget and on-time while navigating the global pandemic, rampant cost escalation, materials and equipment scarcity and prepared for and endured multiple hurricanes and tropical storms – all while maintaining a stellar safety record.

Safety first

At its peak, the NEWPP Expansion Project involved over 1,500 people working on site every day for HWT and HWT’s subcontractor partners. Delivering a project of this scale required HWT to create a best-in-class delivery team that includes some of the water industry’s leading subcontractors and many minority-owned, women-owned and small business enterprises. In recognition of these efforts HWT was awarded Contractor of the Year awards in the greater Houston area by the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity and the National Association of Minority Contractors.

With so many construction workers on site, health and safety was always a foremost concern since the very beginning of this massive project. More than 10,000 people have gone through the HWT’s safety indoctrination training to be eligible to access and work on site, and as of December 2023, the team has safely worked in excess of 9.3 million work hours.

These accomplishments are true testament to the commitment of the HWT team to safety, and the unity of the Jacobs and CDM Smith Joint Venture team and their partners. Each and every day HWT embodies the BeyondZero principles that people are our greatest asset, all accidents and injuries are preventable, and everyone is responsible and accountable for safety.

“The Houston Waterworks Team (HWT) has designed and is building one of the largest progressive design-build drinking water treatment plant projects in the world. With more than 1,500 workers at peak working on the Northeast Water Purification Plant (NEWPP) Expansion Project, and many more in support from off site, nearly 10 million work hours have been safely worked by HWT and its partners on site. The safety and wellbeing of our workers is paramount and at the heart of everything we do every day.”

Greg Fischer

Greg Fischer

Jacobs Vice President and Director of Design-Build & Operations Management and Facility Services

About the NEWPP and HWT team

  • 9 M+

    hours safely worked

  • 1.5 K+

    workers on site daily at the project's peak

  • $ 1.8 B

    project capital cost

  • 320 M

    gallons per day of treatment capacity added

  • 220 K

    cubic yards of reinforced concrete for treatment facility structures

  • 29

    large capacity Vertical Turbine Pumps, ranging in size from 25 mgd to 75 mgd

Houston NEWPP

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