Bay County Water Treatment Plant Operations Building Renovation

The Bay County Water Treatment Plant (WTP) treats and distributes wholesale drinking water to all local municipalities at 60 MGD. The WTP’s multi-story operations building, originally constructed in 1966 and expanded in 1986, is recognized by the American Water Works Association as a National Historic Water Landmark.

Bay County Utility’s (BCU’s) WTP operations building sustained critical damage in October 2018 when Category 4 Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, at 155 miles per hour. This hurricane is noted to be the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the United States in terms of pressure, the strongest storm on record in the Florida Panhandle, and the fourth-strongest landfalling hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in terms of windspeed.

Immediately following the storm, Barge engineers were requested by the Hurricane Relief Organization FlaWarn to be on a “Team of Experts” to assist Bay County Utilities (BCU), Florida Department of Environmental Protection, EPA Region IV, and Florida Rural Water to develop a plan for restoring potable water to Bay County. With previous experience restarting water distribution systems which had been depressurized, Barge was tasked as part of the “Utility Restoration Team” to coordinate a group of approximately 150 personnel from utilities throughout Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and other neighboring states. Barge’s team quickly became familiar with BCU’s water distribution system and was able to create maps to designate pressure zones and expedited the recovery of water service. By October 20, a mere 10 days after Hurricane Michael made landfall, BCU’s entire potable water system was again operational and supplying water to their retail customers and wholesale customers including Panama City, Panama City Beach, Lynn Haven, Springfield, Parker, Calloway, Mexico Beach (to master meter), and Tyndall Air Force Base. This project established Barge with the Utility as a trusted resource.

Since the storm, BCU has been operating their plant from the confines of a temporary work trailer. Renovation of the operations building is necessary to help BCU repair the damages that occurred throughout their Utility System as a result of Hurricane Michael.

Renovation is split into two separate contracts: an exterior hardening package to be completed by another design firm, and an interior renovation for which Barge is contracted. As this is a water treatment plant fulfilling an essential service, the facility must stay in operation throughout renovations. Once completed, BCU will be able to resume normal activity in the operations building.

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