New Industrial Pre-Treatment Facility Positioned for Future

An international life sciences manufacturer hired Woodard & Curran to evaluate, design, and build a new wastewater pretreatment system at its plant in New England. The manufacturing and quality control processes produce low-volume, high strength and high-volume, low strength wastewater streams. The new facility accommodates increasing demand and production growth, while meeting stringent permit discharge limits.


The project team worked with the owner to define wastewater flows and characteristics and evaluate eight treatment options. The selected process, a combination of anaerobic and aerobic processes with a membrane bioreactor (MBR), would cost the least and provide the reliable treatment with opportunity to grow. In March 2017, Woodard & Curran’s industrial wastewater experts launched a five-month pilot study of anaerobic and aerobic treatment to establish design criteria and expected performance. It was during this pilot study that the team discovered the MBR effluent quality met drinking water standards, positioning the facility for water reuse opportunities.


The client opted for a progressive design build delivery method because it wanted input on the system design, needed to fast-track the work, and wanted a single point of responsibility. Woodard & Curran’s team of engineers and constructors expedited the design and permitting to allow construction to begin before the year-end. The use of a pre-cast, post-tensioned concrete reaction tank meant it could be installed in the winter, keeping the project on schedule and saving money.

Our civil design group laid out the system on a site with tight setbacks from wetlands and neighbors. The team leveraged computer modeling to design stormwater management, incorporating a rain garden for infiltrate flows to reduce runoff. The major reaction tank in the facility was incorporated into the structural design to reduce the footprint and simplify piping. With potential growth in mind, the full-scale system was designed with flexibility to reliably expand capacity and provide water supply for reuse. The process team was involved with the procurement of major equipment and overseeing construction. The operations are also fully automated with integration of the various processes. On-site and remote personnel were able to successfully facilitate the start up the aerobic system in late 2019 and the anaerobic system in early 2020. The phased startup kept the plant in compliance and allowed the owner to shutdown their old system sooner than they had originally expected.

From the early design phases, the client and our project management team developed a collaborative relationship. Subcontractors, vendors, and regulators were brought into discussions early to provide feedback and insight to the design. The joint effort helped foster innovation in the project as ideas were shared across stakeholders, which helped deliver an effective pretreatment facility that continues to meet regulatory discharge requirements.


New England



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Woodard & Curran provides an integrated approach to design-build that results in informed, collaborative, and efficient project delivery.

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Industrial Water

We tackle even the toughest wastewater challenges by scrutinizing existing infrastructure and evaluating operations to develop a design and compliance plan that matches the appropriate technology to the industry.

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