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Envisioning Sustainability: AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe Makes the Grade in Gwinnett County

May 9 , 2024
AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe, Water and Wastewater

When you think of sustainable construction practices and infrastructure projects, what comes to mind? For Lawrenceville, Georgia-based contractor JDS Inc. (formerly known as John D. Stephens Inc.) and its involvement in the Eastern Regional Infrastructure Project for Gwinnett County, Georgia, it meant promoting environmental stewardship and innovation, reusing existing materials and selecting a recyclable product for the 22 miles of new water and wastewater mains. Made from recycled iron and steel, this durable and environmentally friendly product was AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe.

First to be installed was 21,000 feet of 16-inch AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe for a new water main. Work began in September 2021 and was completed in March 2022.

“One of the requirements of this project was having a sustainability program and obtaining certification,” said JDS Project Manager/Partner Neil Loudermilk, P.E. “We were able to achieve the Silver ENVISION Certification by repurposing and reusing existing materials on-site, crushing and using blasted rock in the subterrain and selecting AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe. AMERICAN uses recycled materials to make its products and that was a big positive for the ENVISION Certification.”

In January 2021, the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources requested proposals to design, construct and commission the Eastern Regional Infrastructure Project, which consisted of water mains, parallel sewer force mains, gravity sewer mains, a 14 MGD (Million Gallons per Day) pump station, public greenway trails, new trailhead, and stormwater and roadwork improvements. This was a Fixed-Price Design-Build project, which meant the company awarded the job had to determine its costs before work began and handle all the design and construction. JDS submitted its proposal in March 2021 and was awarded the project one month later. The total project bid was $125 million.

The 16-inch water main was installed at three separate locations in the eastern portion of Gwinnett County, Georgia.

“Shortly after JDS was awarded the project, we began working on design, permitting and procurement of materials,” Loudermilk said. “Post pandemic, we were at the start of supply chain issues, increased lead times and rising costs. We decided to take a proactive approach in getting the materials we needed and secured a five-acre storage facility near the project site.”

JDS partnered with AMERICAN to supply all the ductile iron pipe for the project – almost 120,000 feet of water and wastewater pipe in diameters 16 to 36 inches. With the storage facility in place, JDS asked AMERICAN to ship pipe as it was manufactured starting with the force main. “We partnered with Jeff McCullough and AMERICAN early on in this project, and it was a good team effort,” Loudermilk said. “We told them we wanted the pipe as soon as it could be made. The first shipments of 20-inch ductile iron pipe arrived in July and by November 2021, we had almost 50,000 feet on the storage yard.”

64,000 feet of 20-inch ductile iron pipe was installed for the sewer force mains in November 2021. This portion of the project was completed in about a year.

JDS President Steven Archer added, “JDS worked closely with AMERICAN and the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources to overcome delays due to supply chain issues caused by world events. This coordination between all parties saved six to ten months on our construction schedule and assured the project was delivered on time and on budget.”

To maximize the schedule, the 21,000 feet of 16-inch water main pipe was the first to be installed in September 2021, as most of the installation would occur within existing road rights-of-way. This portion was completed in March 2022. “The water mains were not one contiguous or connecting section but rather were at three separate locations in the eastern section of the county,” Loudermilk explained. “This was meant to bolster the redundancy and pressure of the overall system.”

The 64,000 feet of 20-inch ductile iron pipe for the sewer force main were the next to be installed in November 2021. These sewer mains were installed in the same trench with a three-foot minimum separation along two county roads with high traffic volume. This portion of the project took about a year to complete.

The last pipeline installation was for the gravity sewer main and included 10,000 feet of 36-inch, 17,000 feet of 30-inch and 5,000 feet of 24-inch AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe.

The last pipeline installation was for the gravity sewer main and included 10,000 feet of 36-inch, 17,000 feet of 30-inch and 5,000 feet of 24-inch AMERICAN ductile iron pipe. Installation began in May 2022 and was completed in February 2023. “Several miles of the gravity sewer main traversed steep terrain with depths of 30 to 45 feet in solid rock,” Loudermilk said. “Drilling and blasting had to be done as well as trench excavation in these areas. In addition, multiple trenchless crossings were required along the route at state roads, railroads, gas pipelines and county roads.”

Also included as part of the Eastern Regional Infrastructure Project was a 14 MGD pump station, public greenway trails and new trailhead.

The Eastern Regional Infrastructure Project is designed to serve 13,000 acres along the eastern border of Gwinnett County, about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta. This project will provide upgraded and expanded water and sewer service in Gwinnett County as well as support the development and build-out of the 2,000-acre Rowen Knowledge Community.

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