The Great Water Alliance: Tapping into a Historic Project

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As part of the Great Water Alliance program, this historic, decades-in-the-making project replaced Waukesha’s groundwater with a new sustainable supply of drinking water. raSmith provided construction observation services as a subconsultant to Black & Veatch, who was hired by Waukesha Water Utility as the prime construction manager. Watch our video to hear from Waukesha Water Utility and raSmith as they share insights and discuss their roles in this momentous project.

The City of Waukesha faced an unprecedented problem — its drinking water supply was becoming depleted and required a new source. The solution surfaced through the Great Water Alliance program, which is a historic, decades-in-the-making project that benefits the city’s 72,000 residents with a new, lasting water supply from Lake Michigan.

Black & Veatch was hired by Waukesha Water Utility as the prime construction manager. Black & Veatch engaged raSmith as their subconsultant for construction observation. Hear from Waukesha Water Utility and raSmith as they share their insights and discuss their roles in this momentous project.


So, our primary goal was obviously to provide a safe, sustainable, and reliable new drinking water source for the City of Waukesha. And in doing that, we wanted to be very proactive with the communication with all the stakeholders and the municipalities that we would be going through and to keep the project under budget and on schedule.

So, when we were looking at selecting a construction manager for the project, we were very pleased to see that Black & Veatch had selected raSmith as their local experience expert for the project. They were essentially our boots on the ground for the project to do the daily construction management and inspection for the project, which was a vitally important role.


The scope of the project involved the City of Waukesha buying water from the City of Milwaukee. As part of that, there was 11.5 miles of water supply line, 23.5 miles of pipeline, taking water back to Lake Michigan. In addition, there were three pumping stations, two above ground storage tanks, and an above ground water tower on the project. Team collaboration was vital to keep this project flowing smoothly through each step of the process.


The staff in charge of the project reached out to the municipalities that the project went through on an ongoing basis, and really tried to alleviate any concerns or deal with any problems as they occurred as quickly as possible. raSmith assisted Black & Veatch in the dealings with the various project stakeholders. This included balancing the stakeholders needs for their residents with the requirements placed upon Waukesha Water Utility by the DNR and EPA to complete the project. It was fun to see how all of the communities actually came together to help get this project completed.


The project included many challenges, such as construction along a 36-mile area with geographical constraints, equipment sourcing, and tight deadlines.


On the Great Water Alliance project, I provided oversight for the construction of the booster pumping station, the ground storage reservoirs, and the elevated water storage tank. One of the main challenges with the construction of the facilities was lead times on not only the electrical equipment, but the pumps behind me. A lot of them showed up within the last couple of months before we were to go operational. So it was a lot of long hours, nights, weekends, to get everything where it was supposed to be so that we can push clean water out.


raSmith's staff continued on the means that we normally do on a project of looking ahead with the foreman, making sure that we were talking to the contractor on a daily basis, not looking to see what was happening that day, but what was happening 3 to 5 days ahead. Seeing that the materials that were needed were on site…if they were not, working with the foreman, the superintendent, the project leads for the contractors, and getting that material on site.


Black & Veatch and raSmith worked together to accomplish the project's goal, and the results speak for themselves. It's life changing for the for the whole community of Waukesha, and to see the water flowing and to have this milestone that's been over 20 years in motion, come to fruition, has been incredible to be a part of. And very fortunate that, you know, Black & Veatch and raSmith, were here to help us along with that process. And we're also very, very thankful for all the communities that we went through, the patience that they displayed and, and the relationships that we've developed.


I'm proud that raSmith was able to be a part of this once in a lifetime project and bring a fresh water source to the City of Waukesha on time and within the DNR requirements.