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City of Lawrence Selects McCarthy Building Companies for Kansas River Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements

KANSAS CITY, KS — McCarthy Building Companies Inc.’s Water Services team was recently selected as the general contractor for the $70-million improvement project for the Kansas River Wastewater Treatment Plant, located in Lawrence, Kansas. The improvement project, which aligns with the City of Lawrence’s strategic plan and sustainability goals, marks the city’s second largest funded wastewater project. The improvements are required to meet the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulatory permit requirements issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The plant, which receives nearly 80 percent of the city’s wastewater, was originally opened in 1956 and has an average daily flow of 8 million gallons per day (MGD). As an end-of-line facility that processes and discharges effluent (treated wastewater) into the Kansas River, it is critical that the plant utilize current technology and remain functional throughout the construction process.

“We are excited to be moving forward on this very important project for the City of Lawrence with McCarthy. This is a complex project to enhance our treatment processes to reduce nutrients in order to meet our regulatory permit requirements,” said Trevor Flynn, Assistant Director of Municipal Services and Operations for the City of Lawrence. “As part of our strategic plan, this project will ensure we stay in compliance with our discharge standards and achieve our wastewater reliability and sustainability goals.”

The scope of work, which will be completed by McCarthy as the project’s CMAR (Construction Manager At Risk) includes:

  • Replacing major motor control centers and upgrading electrical equipment, including transferring from city-owned transformers to utility-owned transformers
  • Converting from aeration to a biological nutrient removal (BNR) treatment process, which includes converting four aeration basins to BNR basins, converting existing sludge holding tank to a return activated sludge (RAS) fermenter, as well as upgrading to gearless, high-speed turbo blowers and a new thickened waste-activated sludge tank
  • Building a new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) facility with a new fiber loop, which will help plant staff more efficiently monitor and address system challenges
  • Converting a chlorine contact basin into a new UV facility, which utilizes a different disinfectant process that is more environmentally friendly and sustainable
  • Upgrading grit handling equipment to current standards as well as additional upgrades, including valve replacements

“This is the city’s first wastewater project using CMAR delivery, which will be an asset since it fosters more flexibility for the city along with a collaborative team environment and provides a seamless improvement process while maintaining plant operations,” said William Brennan, Project Manager for McCarthy. “With so many of our national water group team members and their families living in communities across the Midwest, we are proud be part of this project, and to be supporting the city of Lawrence in its strategic plan that makes health, safety, and sustainability a priority.”

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The wastewater treatment plant has a dry weather capacity of 25 MGD and an additional 40 MGD for wet weather. Black & Veatch is the project consultant and McCarthy is in the process of soliciting experienced trade partners for the improvement project.

Preconstruction is underway currently with the project’s construction slated to begin in May 2023 and completion is expected to be in fall 2026.

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