By Alison James
Opelika Utilities’ W. Warner Williams Water Resource Park has won the 2015 Grand Award for Engineering Excellence.
“We were very pleased. Going into it, we felt like we would receive some recognition, but I don’t think we ever thought we’d get the Grand Award,” said Dan Hilyer, general manager.
Projects are submitted for the competition by the engineering firm, Hilyer said – in this case, Krebs Engineering of Birmingham.
“The projects run the gamut of construction projects,” Hilyer said – including hospitals and law offices. “It’s not just water treatment plants … So that’s unique, that we won.”
The award, which is the top prize given by the Alabama Council of Engineering Companies, was presented Feb. 26 at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery. Krebs Engineering of Birmingham was honored as the number one engineering firm in Alabama for the project.
“Receiving the award reflects upon the process, the effort that went into the design of the project,” Hilyer said. “It reflects upon the quality of construction … We were in design for four years before we ever started building the project, so that was a lot of hard work and the award shows that that paid off.”
Hilyer and capital projects manager Alan Lee also pointed out that Opelika benefited from using the economic downturn at that time to the city’s advantage, building the facility at a time when the citizens could “get a very good value for their dollar.”
“We built this project with the citizens of Opelika in mind, and we built it for the long haul,” Hilyer said. “We built this facility to last 75-100 years … Our thought process was, let’s do this once, and make it correct, do it right, and it will be here for a long time. It doesn’t cost that much more to do something correctly.”
Constructed on an 11-acre campus at the Opelika Water Works Board’s 415-acre water supply reservoir, facilities include a water treatment facility, a raw water intake, an administrative office building, a vehicle and equipment storage facility and a maintenance facility. The water treatment facility includes conventional mixing and flocculation, high-rate sedimentation basins, finished water storage, an 18,000 square-foot membrane filtration and chemical facility, onsite generation of chlorine/bleach and a finished water pumping station.
All operations, including administrative, customer service and field services, were consolidated and relocated to the new campus.
The field services office and the administrative office are approximately 8,000 and 11,000 square feet, respectively, and both facilities are LEED Silver certified.
“This was a $30 million project going up against projects that were in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Hilyer said. “It’s not (an award) that was given away lightly.
“And through all of this, we’re not tooting our own horn,” Hilyer added. “We’re tooting the horn of Opelika, as a whole. We want them to be as proud of it as we are.”