NBU Capital Improvement Program from $16M to $250M in Five Years Flat

Public utilities face many challenges as population grows and infrastructure ages, putting increasingly greater demands on utility staff to manage large capital improvement programs to meet resulting infrastructure needs. In rapidly growing Comal County, New Braunfels Utilities (NBU or Utility) ramped up their Capital Improvement Program (CIP or Program) from $10 million in 2016/2017 to $256 million over a 5-year period to respond to mounting capacity and condition-related needs in their water and wastewater systems. These improvements, which were significantly greater than anything NBU had implemented in previous years, encompassed over 60 projects with costs ranging from $50,000 to over $40 million each.

To strategically address increasing demand and condition-related constraints, the Utility completed a water and wastewater master plan with Freese and Nichols, Inc. (FNI) that identified over 80 projects worth over $550 million that needed to be in place within the next 25 years. Because this Program was significantly greater than anything the Utility had undertaken in prior years, NBU partnered with FNI to develop and implement an integrated delivery strategy using resources from both organizations to deliver the aggressive Program. This paper will discuss the principal components of this delivery strategy, including Program Management/Staff Augmentation, Resource Planning and Hiring Design, Construction Standards, and Program Tools and Templates.

Many water utilities across Texas, particularly those in areas experiencing rapid growth, face similar challenges in delivering large capital programs with limited staff. This paper will provide key strategies to help prioritize and deliver necessary improvements through development of a customized Capital Project Delivery Plan that takes advantage of both internal and external resources.

Authors:

  • ¬†Drew Hardin, P.E., Freese and Nichols
  • Mike Short, P.E., New Braunfels Utilities

 

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