Wards Island Wastewater Pollution Control Plant
(WPCP) is the second-largest New York City Department of Environmental
Protection's (DEP) wastewater treatment plant. It serves over one million people
in the western Bronx and Upper East Side of Manhattan. Due to the
decommissioning of an existing shared heating plant, the DEP needed to construct
a new steam heating system. Heat plays a major role in the wastewater treatment
process by stimulating the growth of the anaerobic bacteria that consume organic
material in the plant sludge.
The majority of the new steam lines were installed
in a network of existing underground utility tunnels, over one mile long.
Normally, plans would have been drawn up on paper showing the general path for
the new lines. During construction, it would be the contractor's responsibility
to adjust the routing in the tunnel if other pipes or equipment were in the
At an old facility like Wards Island, which was
constructed over 70 years ago, decades of modifications have resulted in
inaccurate and incomplete records of which utility lines exist in the tunnels
and where they are located. A contractor would likely encounter many conflicts
during construction, thus delaying the project and resulting in unforeseen and
potentially substantial additional costs.
Erdman Anthony integrated laser scanning technology
with traditional surveying to build a three-dimensional (3D) CADD model of the
tunnels and their contents. Through the integration of GPS control, surveying,
and laser scanning, Erdman Anthony conquered DEP's 6,000 linear feet of tunnels
with pipes and provided a model that is dimensionally and spatially accurate
within a quarter of an inch.
The 3D model allowed engineers to lay out the
proposed pipes right in the model itself, providing accurate locations and pipe
lengths. Essentially, they “built” the new system in virtual reality.
The project was designed through the New York Power Authority's (NYPA) Energy
Services Program—a funding source for projects with energy-saving potential.
With the use of survey laser scanning and 3D modeling, Erdman Anthony added
cost-saving potential to this publicly funded project. Time was critical; for
every moment between the decommissioning of the existing heating plant and the
completion of new construction, operation of a temporary, higher cost system was
required. Efficient construction provided greater cost savings to both NYPA and New York's residents.
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