The stakes were high in April 2022 when JEA began building a new water reclamation facility. JEA is a community-owned utility serving more than 700,000 water and wastewater customers in the Jacksonville, Florida, area. The new plant – Duval County’s first of this type in 45 years – would treat wastewater to be used for commercial and residential irrigation in a growing area southeast of the city.
A key challenge in the 20-month, $52 million project would be installing parallel lines for potable water and treated wastewater, including a challenging stretch between U.S Highway 1 and the Florida East Coast Railway. The heavily traveled route included river and bridge crossings and required Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) under pavement. In total, the job called for 53,000 feet of 24-inch, 30-inch and 36-inch AMERICAN ductile iron pipe, as well as twenty-four 24-inch, twenty-six 30-inch and three 36-inch AMERICAN Flow Control resilient wedge gate valves ̶ all while pandemic-related supply chain issues were still being resolved.
“We had a lot of difficult factors to consider, working in such a high growth area with a busy highway, a very narrow corridor to work in, and just a lot of traffic,” said JEA Water/Wastewater Program Manager Mike Williams. “And then, just because of where we were in the world with supply chain issues, we had to make sure we could get the materials. Lucky for us, working and partnering with Garney and AMERICAN, they were able to procure it.”
Garney Construction, the Florida-based contractor installing the lines, partnered with AMERICAN to provide the pipe and valves, based on the contractor’s long history of success in working with AMERICAN.
“When we’re talking about a job this large with this much pipe, the biggest driver, in terms of cost and schedule, is the pipe itself,” said Will Poczekaj, regional operations manager at Garney.
A critical component, he added, was “having a partner that you can count on, that’s reliable to get you things when they say they’re going to get them to you and provide the level of service that you need.
“We work with AMERICAN so often, we know the level of service we’re going to get, and there’s a level of trust there. And if there were to be an issue, we know AMERICAN is going to step up, own it and work to make it right,” Poczekaj said.
At one point, he noted, the timetable sped up, and AMERICAN was able to borrow pipe from some of its other partnerships with Garney in other regions. “They help us meet our needs across the country, and not just on this particular job.”
As of August 2023, the project was more than 90% complete, with final flushing and testing underway, Poczekaj said. “It’s important to note that this project started on the tail end of supply chain impacts during COVID, and, as far as I am concerned, we experienced no hiccups. Between JEA and AMERICAN and ourselves, we were able to build a successful project in a really challenging market.”