Rain or shine, one thing is certain: BakerCorp delivers solutions that fit customers’ needs to a “T.” This means consistently providing the best product and service and preparing for every possible contingency—be it logistical challenges, environmental concerns, extreme weather conditions or, as in the case of a recent sewer bypass project for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), all three.
A Collaboration for Better Customer Service
The project, which was completed in 2006 and pumped out approximately 900 million gallons of sewage in 75 days, was part of a $250M railway reconstruction plan to help alleviate severe highway and rapid transit congestion in Boston, Massachusetts. As the oldest and fifth-largest public transit system in the country, the MBTA, known to locals as “The T” after its adopted logo, serves nearly 1.2 million people daily through its massive network of subways, buses, ferries and commuter rail lines. In 2003, to expand its commuting options, the MBTA commissioned Cashman, Inc./Balfour Beatty Construction, Inc. (CBB) to reconstruct the 18-mile “Greenbush” rail service, from Braintree all the way to Scituate.
There were, however, a number of obstacles, including a stretch of 48-inch sewer line pipe belonging to the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) that lay in the path of the planned railway extension. Essentially, the MWRA sewer line had to be bypassed and rebuilt at a lower elevation without disturbing local residents or impacting the environment. An enormous amount of water had to be pumped up and rerouted, with little margin for error. Any mistake could result in work delays, environmental fines and raw sewage backing up and overflowing onto the streets or worse yet, into people’s homes. Because of the size and importance of the project, CBB called on the company they could trust to do the job well: BakerCorp.
Right People, Right Product, Right Planning
“Gaining a customer’s trust doesn’t come easily,” says BakerCorp Northeast Regional Manager Carroll Hunnewell, whose team spearheaded the project. “You have to consistently bring three things to the table: good people, reliable equipment and a strong commitment to do everything you promise to do.”
After promptly putting a solid team in place, the first thing BakerCorp did was research the lay of the land to determine the best equipment and set-up for the project. Several factors came into play: First, there was only a very small area in which to install all the necessary equipment. Second, there was a 22-foot lift in elevation from the water level to the centerline of the pumps at their highest point, which was considerably higher than the 10- to 15-foot lift found on average in the New England Region. And third, based on consultations with the MWRA, the system had to be built to accommodate excessive water flow in case of any unanticipated storms.
Working with CBB to revise the original parameters for the sewer bypass system, Carroll and his team increased the pumping capacity from 23 to 43 MGD (million gallons per day). They incorporated a siphon to direct the water down and then back up a five-foot elevation. They also installed seven 12-inch pumps—six primaries and one backup—which attached directly to seven 14-inch suction lines, so that water could be discharged 250 feet away into two 18-inch and one 27-inch siphon barrels that went underneath the river bed. Lastly, they built a 20-percent safety margin into the system, so that even when the operation exceeded water flow by upwards of 10 MGD, the pumps would continue to perform flawlessly.
BakerCorp’s intense preparation and foresight served the project well when, in the midst of the pumping operation, Boston suddenly found itself deluged by back-to-back 100-year storms—heavy rainfall that have just 1 percent chance in any given year of being equaled or exceeded—followed by periods of extensive dryness. Through it all, the pumps performed without a hitch. “On any sewer bypass project, it’s crucial to always build in a safety margin and to choose pumps that have dry-run capability,” says Carroll. “That way, your system will continue to function efficiently even if your flows vary dramatically.”
A Strong Commitment to Exceed Expectations
BakerCorp’s system also had other value-added benefits: Aside from operating flawlessly despite extreme weather conditions, the pumps ran at lower RPMs, burning less fuel than expected. This resulted in a 50-percent savings in fuel costs, or the equivalent of $15,000. Not content with just that reduction, BakerCorp also installed sound-absorbing curtains around the project area, which cut down noise levels by more than 30 percent at a distance of 30 feet.
“It required a tremendous amount of teamwork and preparation to pull together a project of this magnitude,” says Carroll, whose team is now working on other larger sewer bypass projects. “In the end, of course, it’s all well worth the effort because it shows contractors and clients that when it comes to finding the right company for their needs, they don’t need to look beyond BakerCorp’s doors.”