Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is CMAA’s National Project of the Year

Michael Baker collected CMAA’s national award for project of the year.

The Newtown Creek Wastewater treatment complex, the largest of 14 wastewater treatment plants owned and operated by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), processes wastewater from sections of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan from its location along Newtown Creek and Whale Creek.

The underlying challenge: The plant had been plagued by a phenomenon common to wastewater facilities that combine the management of sanitary wastewater and stormwater – intake of excessive rainwater and stream overflow that often exceeded the plant’s handling capacity. During “wet weather” events, some of that untreated wastewater would make its way into the creeks and then flow from Whale Creek to the East River, polluting this waterway and damaging the ecosystem.

To comply with Clean Water Act requirements, NYCDEP developed a three-phase, $5 billion expansion-and-upgrade plan. The third and final phase, which would prove the most ambitious, included four distinct projects: construction of a Central Residuals Building to remove all non-biological matter from wastewater; upgrading of the South Battery and Control Building, which provides grit removal, aerobic processing and biological setting; construction of a new sludge loading dock, including maintenance dredging of a Superfund site; demolition of the old East River Sludge Storage Tank and decommissioning of the East River loading dock.

NYCDEP contracted with a joint venture that included Michael Baker, Gannett Fleming and APTIM to provide construction management services for this complex $1.2 billion expansion phase. The team handled project management, constructability reviews, resident engineering inspection, schedule management, delay analysis, contractor and stakeholder partnering and community outreach.

Ultimately, the final phase of the project increased the plant’s daily wet-weather-processing capability from 310 million gallons to 720 million gallons, a 132 percent increase in capacity that means a significant reduction in untreated water escaping the treatment facility during heavy rains. The major urban wastewater processing facility has been transformed into an award-winning model of modern infrastructure that also provides a waterfront nature walk and serves as an educational tourist attraction – completed under budget by $71.7 million.

To date, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant has received the following recognition:

  • 2018 CMAA National Project Achievement Award in Water/Wastewater: Construction Value Greater Than $50 Million
  • 2018 CMAA New York/New Jersey Project of the Year Greater Than $100 Million
  • 2017 ENR New York Best Water/Environment Project
  • 2017 ACEC New York Diamond Award in the category of Waste and Storm Water