Record Design-Build Water/Wastewater Conference Held in Texas

Perhaps it was the destination ? the magnificent Gaylord Texan Hotel & Convention Center in Dallas. Perhaps it was the coordination with the Design-Build Transport annual conference. Perhaps it was the topic itself ? the rapid growth of the alternative project delivery options for much-needed U.S. municipal water/wastewater infrastructure projects. ?

Or perhaps it was the recent success that the design-build project delivery method has experienced in the past year. 2009 was a record year for the design-build sector as a result of the passage of 100-plus bills by the various state and local government bodies. Specifically, according to DBIA?s vice president of advocacy Richard Thomas, 52 percent of the bills passed expanded the design-build project delivery method at the state level while 48 percent of the bills expanded design-build at the local level (good for the water/wastewater infrastructure project sector). Additionally, every state in the country has finally implemented some kind of design-build authority.

Whatever the actual identifiable driver(s) ? the recently concluded Design-Build Institute of America?s (DBIA) 2010 Design-Build Water/Wastewater Conference was a huge success. ?

Now celebrating its 12th year, the conference showcased an unprecedented number of exhibitors and sponsors.? The official co-sponsors of the 2010 Design-Build Water/Wastewater Conference included the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), the Water Design-Build Council, the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. ?

Corporate supporters of the conference were numerous. Platinum sponsors included AECOM, Arcadis, Black & Veatch, CDM, CH2M Hill, HDR, MWH, Parsons, Siemens and Skanska. Gold and silver levels of sponsorship attracted companies like Kiewit, RW Beck, Burns & McDonnell and Brown & Caldwell.
Most importantly, according to Lisa Washington, executive director of DBIA, the three-day conference attracted a record number of attendees (600-plus) including an extensive presence of owners/municipal authorities. ?Unlike previous conference years, the owners came to this conference with a clearer understanding of the value of the design-build delivery method,? Washington said. In the past, she noted municipal water authorities ?had not outwardly embraced design-build.?

The challenge has now shifted ? while more owners are beginning to recognize the benefits of the design-build project delivery method, the local municipal government decision-makers still need to become more informed of the advantages of design-build. City and town councils need to better understand the balancing act between pursuing the best value (design-build) vs. the cheapest bottomline (design-bid-build). Fortunately, Washington believes that there are enough examples of proven design-build successes in the water/wastewater sector to help with this education process.

In addition to a special working lunch program for the municipal owners (and one for the design-build private sector practitioners) where concerns were expressed for improving a municipality?s ability to successfully and effectively bid out a design-build infrastructure project, there were a number of comprehensive conference sessions that showcased successful design-build public-private partnership case studies. Some of the examples presented were the Santa Paula wastewater project in California, the Lawrence water treatment facility in Massachusetts, the Fillmore water recycling program also in California, the Williams wastewater treatment plant in Arizona, and the Tampa Bay water reservoir renovation project in Florida.

The multi-day conference included two well-received keynote presentations. The opening general session was delivered by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The opening keynote was delivered by Debra Coy who was, until recently, the managing director for the water sector at Janney Montgomery Scott. Coy stressed the importance of innovation and the need for new funding tools that can better tap into the availability of private sector capital.? ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *