Water News & Insights

Master Planning Your Future Treatment Needs

Although master planning recommendations will evolve over time, there is a proven process when it comes to developing your utility’s master plan. Many utilities, both municipal and private, are faced with the evolving challenges of meeting future regulatory requirements and growing population demands. Developing a robust facility master plan and capital improvements plan (CIP) is key to facing these challenges.

Some best practices for master planning your future treatment needs include:

1. Establish a Baseline

Understanding the unique goals and drivers of a specific utility is important to tailoring the master planning process and overall alternatives evaluation approach. Your baseline should also consider present and future anticipated regulatory limits (nutrient limits, watershed limitations, biosolids, beneficial reuse). Coupling a regulatory review with influent flow and loading data review will further aid in understanding future regulatory implications and establishing the baseline for your alternative assessment. If influent data is limited, Kimley-Horn can work with you to conduct a special sampling plan.

2. Conduct Facility Assessments and Operator Interviews

Involving operations staff on day one is critical to project success. This brings a collaborative “walk in your shoes attitude” to understand current operational challenges and needs across the facility. The facility assessments should incorporate operational concerns as well as visual condition assessments. The condition assessments can be high-level or detailed in nature. Both approaches can also be tied to complementing an existing or establishing a new asset management program.

3. Utilize Modeling for Alternative Assessments

To meet the growing regulatory and population demands, a variety of alternatives can be considered for each area of the treatment process at wastewater treatment facilities. Process modeling is a unique tool to assist utilities in developing alternatives by offering a streamlined approach through multiple software platforms. Plant process models and integrated hydraulic models provide quantitative decision tools for the future. These can be used to determine long-term operational strategies.

4. Develop a Prioritized CIP

After establishing your baseline, conducting facility assessments, and utilizing modeling for alternatives evaluation, it’s time to build a robust and prioritized CIP for your planning horizon. During the project prioritization phase, it’s important to keep in mind the goals and metrics established in the early stages of the project. A focus on cost vs. risk analysis approach should also be considered. Developing custom scoring criteria and selection matrices can further assist in prioritizing your CIP.

Considering these best practices on your next facility master plan can create a collaborative assessment and decision-making process that balances the needs and resources available to assure a reliable, affordable, long-term treatment facility plan.


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