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Pipeline Project Earns Highest Honor for Sustainability

July 27, 2016

A major water supply project that will serve the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has earned the highest international recognition for sustainability in infrastructure. On Tuesday, July 19, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) presented the Envision® Platinum Award to the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) and the City of Dallas for the Integrated Pipeline Project (IPL). This is the highest Envision® award ever given to a pipeline project.

Freese and Nichols led the Envision® assessment efforts for the IPL and has served in numerous other planning, design and management roles on the project. We also participated in the design and construction of the only other Envision® winning pipeline, TRWD’s Line J Section 1 Pipeline, which received a Silver Award in 2014.

The IPL, jointly owned by the TRWD and City of Dallas, is a $2.5 billion transmission system that will expand water capacity for Dallas-Fort Worth. It will have 150 miles of 84- to 108-inch-diameter pipeline, six pump stations, three storage reservoirs and other related infrastructure. The IPL is under construction, with the first phase anticipated to be operational in 2018.

Key sustainable features

Envision® awards are given to projects based on the Envision® Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System​, which measures sustainability in five categories: quality of life, leadership, resource allocation, natural world, and climate and risk. The rating system recognized many high-scoring features of the IPL — so many that it took one year to prepare the Envision® application. Here are just a few:

  • Regional leadership: The partnership between TRWD and Dallas is the first of its kind in Texas. It is a successful model of operational and financial cooperation for the state and the industry, and it is also scalable to larger projects.
  • Improved local skills and capabilities: Many benefits were realized through the IPL's efforts to diversify and share work, which were paired with cross-training and research taking place among multiple consultants, contractors, and academic institutions.
  • Improved infrastructure integration: The pipeline connects some of TRWD's and Dallas' raw water conveyance systems, with interconnections enabling water to be transferred between the systems.
  • Plans for long-term monitoring and maintenance: The pipeline is designed to provide access for maintenance, condition assessment, and to allow nondestructive testing to take place without draining the pipeline. 
  • Reduced excavated materials taken off site:  It has been estimated that approximately 70 percent of trench excavated materials suitable for beneficial reuse will remain on site for Phase 1 of the project. This practice reduces the carbon footprint associated with mining gravel and hauling it to the jobsite and with transporting excess material away for disposal. Some construction contracts were strategically structured to enable this reuse.
  • Efficient energy systems: IPL pump stations feature energy and equipment monitoring well above the industry norms. These systems enable TRWD and Dallas to adjust operations to maximize operational efficiency, which results in lower power use and cost.
  • Habitat and cultural preservation: The pipeline route was altered multiple times to avoid historical and archaeological sites, protected species and forested wetlands.


Serving as trusted advisors

TRWD and City of Dallas called on Freese and Nichols to prepare the Envision® application. Our team, led by water resources engineer Elizabeth Blackwelder, reviewed each credit within the Envision® categories, identified key sustainable features, researched and compiled supporting documentation, and developed a credit-specific narrative highlighting how IPL meets the established intent and metrics.

Overall, Freese and Nichols has played a number of roles in the IPL, dating back to 2010:

  • Our team performed a route study that identified preliminary routes for the pipeline and locations for pump stations and reservoirs.
  • We performed environmental services including jurisdictional determination of wetlands and other waters; applications for multiple permits; cultural resources investigations; habitat surveys; and development of a GIS database of environmental data.
  • We completed a hydraulic analysis for the transmission system and developed design criteria standards, including specifications and details for the pipeline, which has been designed in segments by multiple consultants.
  • Our team is designing Segment 16, which is 14 miles of 96-inch pipe.
  • We designed three storage reservoirs: Two suction reservoirs and one new terminal storage reservoir.
  • Freese and Nichols is providing construction management for the entire project, with several senior resident project representatives providing management and inspection services for the pipelines, reservoirs, and pump stations.
  • Our team is involved in development of the facilities operations and maintenance manuals for the project.

Freese and Nichols has made an increasingly stronger commitment to sustainability since joining ISI as a charter member in 2011. More than 40 of its employees are credentialed Envision® Sustainability Professionals (ENV SPs). Four employees serve on ISI national committees: Elizabeth Blackwelder and Todd Buckingham in Fort Worth, Tricia Hatley in Oklahoma City, and Alan Hutson in Houston.