Innovative Partnership Brings New Pump Station to Lake Arlington
By Max Baker, Arlington Water Utilities
Posted on June 09, 2020, June 09, 2020

Arlington Water Utilities and TRA are joining forces in a $21 million project that will result in a station with six gleaming new pumps under one roof, serving Arlington and TRA’s client cities. Credit: Freese and Nichols, Inc.

The City of Arlington and the Trinity River Authority (TRA) are taking a neighborly approach when it comes to bringing tap water to hundreds of thousands of North Texas residents.

The two entities both operate pump stations that send water from Lake Arlington to their respective water treatment plants. One pump station was built in 1957, the other in 1974. The pump stations each have been renovated and reconfigured over the years to meet the needs of their owners - and cities - without fail. Now, in a groundbreaking agreement, Arlington Water Utilities and TRA are joining forces in a $21 million project that will result in a station with six gleaming new pumps under one roof, serving Arlington and TRA’s client cities.

“It is highly unusual to see two agencies working under the same roof,” said Arlington Water Utilities Director Craig Cummings. “But it will eventually save customers of both entities millions of dollars.”

The fact that Arlington Water Utilities and TRA do not serve the same water customers is what makes this particular project so uncommon in the industry, said John Logan, TRA engineer at the Tarrant County Water Supply Project in Euless.

“This is actually pretty unique. I’m not aware of any other facility that is operated by two separate organizations for two completely separate systems,” Logan said.

Construction is set to start in June of this year and be completed in the fall of 2021.

A common sense approach

There’s a certain flow to the idea of working together.

Arlington and TRA both use Lake Arlington as a source for raw water. The 1,926-acre lake, built in the late 1950s, is owned by the City of Arlington but is part of a chain of lakes and reservoirs used to provide water to North Central Texas.

Arlington occupied the original pump station until it built its current facility in 1974. It now leases the older pump station to TRA, which renamed it the Tarrant County Water Supply Project’s Raw Water Pump Station.

Inside the facility operated by Arlington Water Utilities are five pumps - with space for a sixth one - that are capable of pumping 250 million gallons of water a day. Over the years the utility has reworked the plant, including adding a new backup generator and pump in 1997. But, with time, the pumps have lost their efficiency and it’s become more costly to repair them, said Emily Hannon, an Arlington Water Utilities engineer and Lake Arlington Raw Water Pump Station project manager.

“Some of the pumps are as old as the station itself,” Hannon said. “...So, it’s time …”

Not far away, TRA was faced with the same dilemma.

Time has taken a toll on that machinery; repairs have become costly, Logan said.

Independently, the Arlington Water Utilities and TRA were looking at making changes at each of their facilities. Since the Arlington pump station was built with room to spare, why not share space with TRA?

“By and large, the bones of the facility were in great shape,” Cummings said. “These kinds of synergies are good. We see it as a leap forward.”

Almost a new facility

Talks started in 2015 with the idea of operating a single pump station with an “operational cost savings,” a City of Arlington report states. After doing an engineering study, an agreement was reached in 2018 between Arlington and TRA.

“We found we can get a new facility, new equipment for less than the cost of renovating our own … It just made sense to work with Arlington on this,” Logan said.

Under that arrangement, TRA and Arlington Water will split the cost of the renovation 55 percent to 45 percent, with TRA contributing $11.36 million and Arlington $9.34 million. Arlington Water Utilities will oversee the construction process.

Once the work is completed, Arlington and TRA will operate separately, but split the operational costs, with TRA paying a nominal lease to Arlington to occupy the building. Both will pay for new electrical gear as well as equipment to fight Zebra mussels, a small, invasive shellfish that can colonize and clog water pipes.

Arlington has already bought its 450 horsepower pumps, which will be used to typically pump 50 million to 55 million gallons a day, when necessary, through the Pierce-Burch Water Treatment Plant in west Arlington, Hannon said.

Arlington’s main water treatment plant is the John F. Kubala in southwest Arlington. Pierce-Burch is typically run at lower levels because it is seen as a “peak” plant, or one that is used when demand is higher. It can provide up to 75 million gallons a day.

“This was built oversize for the city of Arlington - we have planned for the future that way - and we’re still at a point where we don’t need all that capacity,” she said.

Bigger pumps and modifications to its pipe yard all account for a higher price tag for TRA’s portion of the project. The organization will also continue to maintain and operate its existing, older facility periodically to make sure it is available.

But, in the end, it will all be a big improvement over what now exists.

“The new pump station will give us newer pumps, newer motors and newer electrical equipment, allowing for future growth for the customers we serve. So, it is going to be a big upgrade,” Logan said.

Cummings said he hopes other governmental agencies can learn from their experience.

“I would hope it would be a model for the person in charge of guarding our customers’ investment in these facilities,” Cummings said.

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