The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Texas awarded civil engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN), a gold medal for its work on the Joseph A. Willhelm Industrial Pump Station in Texas City. The award, given under the Industrial category, will be presented during the ACEC Texas Engineering Excellence Awards Gala at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in San Antonio on March 28, 2022.
The Engineering Excellence Awards Competition has been held by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Texas since its inception in 1975 to honor and recognize outstanding achievements within the engineering community. A panel of judges around the state select projects based on innovation, future value to the engineering profession, social and economic considerations, complexity and exceeding the client’s needs.
The pump station, named in honor of the Gulf Coast Water Authority’s (GCWA) first general manager, Joseph A. Willhelm, provides 96 million gallons a day of water to GCWA’s five major refining and petrochemical customers — Dow Chemical, BP Products, Valero, Marathon Petroleum, and Eastman Chemical Company — in Texas City. The new pump station, which was completed in July 2021, is the single largest capital investment by the water authority in decades. It expands pumping capacity by almost 25%, ensuring long-term reliability and the capacity to accommodate future industrial growth. It replaces the original pump station built in 1949.
GCWA, which maintains an extensive system of canals, pump stations, pipelines, reservoirs and a water treatment plant to deliver up to 200 million gallons of water a day from the Brazos River Basin to its customers, spearheaded the project. LAN provided design and construction engineering services for the new pump station.
“The project provides uninterrupted water service to GCWA’s customers in a leading center of the petrochemical industry,” said Wayne Swafford, P.E., LAN’s president. “These industrial customers account for nearly 5,000 jobs in Texas City and play an important role in the state’s economic growth. In addition, the project has enhanced the city’s reputation as a great place to work, live and raise a family.”
The pump station also provides critical fire protection services to GCWA’s industrial customers. Considering that a large petroleum refinery can process hundreds of thousands of barrels per day, the cost of a single refinery fire can be devastating both in terms of human lives and economic losses. By providing reliable water for fire protection services, the project improved the safety of these refineries.
The new pump station is also built with sustainable materials such as stainless steel, fiberglass and concrete that do not corrode and provide energy efficiency, long life cycle, and lower life-cycle costs. The new pump station building was constructed with insulated structural precast concrete panels and steel framing. All below-grade structures were constructed with cast-in-place concrete for long-term durability. The building is equipped with a robust ventilation system to remove motor heat and sound attenuation panels to reduce operational noise.
Lastly, the original pump station was not hurricane-proof and was potentially susceptible to extreme weather events given its age and deteriorated condition. The new facility is designed to withstand 140-mile-per-hour hurricane winds (Category 4 wind scale) – 20 miles higher than required wind load requirements. The facility’s robust design makes it more resilient and allows continuous operations following a significant hurricane event.