Case Studies

SSC Construction Inc.

Delivering the Powell Butte Reservoir II Project

The Environmental Protection Agency issued the Long Term 2 Surface Water Treatment Rule in 2000, requiring all water from Oregon’s Bull Run Watershed be treated at the source for a potentially disease causing pathogen: cryptosporidium. Despite a low threat of cryptosporidium in one of Oregon’s most vital water sources, the city of Portland, Ore., put the wheels in motion to comply with the rule. In 2011 work officially broke ground on the Powell Butte Reservoir II, a 50 million-gallon capacity covered water reservoir.

The reservoir may be the second for Powell Butte Nature Park, but has been in the planning stages since 1980 when the first reservoir was constructed. The site was established as the Powell Butte Nature Park in 1987 and opened to the public in 1999. Planning for a second reservoir commenced as early as 2005. However, progress was delayed when local neighborhoods expressed understandable concerns over the reservoir’s impact to the park, as well as to the immediate community. A final plan was agreed upon after numerous public forums, workshops and community outreach efforts to satisfy both the Portland Water Bureau’s environmental requirements and the community’s concerns.

“It’s an incredibly exciting project for everyone involved, because we’re going to deliver what the city of Portland has been planning for years,” asserts Neil Nehmens, vice president at SSC Construction Inc. (SSC).

SSC was tapped to provide the general contracting and engineering services for the Powell Butte Reservoir II project, the cost of which is currently estimated to be $80 million. SSC is a civil engineering contractor based out of Corona, Calif. The company also has a regional office in Vancouver, Wash., that boasts the capabilities to offer general engineering, general contracting, construction management, value engineering, consulting and expert testimony services.

Respectful, Responsible

SSC was founded in 1978 and has since built itself a reputation for expedient, efficient and quality project delivery primarily for water and wastewater treatment plants and reservoir construction projects. The sensitive nature of the Powell Butte Reservoir II project prompted the city to look for a company with a local presence and the requisite experience to deliver such a large-scale project.

“We were one of just four general contractors to prequalify for the project,” says Nehmens. “We’re doing everything we can to respect the park, local neighbors and the city’s customers by delivering this major project on time and on budget.”

SSC spent a considerable amount of time during the planning stages to raise awareness of the project through workshops and community outreach programs, ensuring that contractors across the state would have the opportunity to bid on the project. One such strategic partner is Northwest Pipe Company, a leading manufacturer of welded steel pipe based in Vancouver, Wash., which had a previous relationship with SSC through providing pipe for the Henry Garnett WPP Expansion in 2008. For the Powell Butte Reservoir II Northwest Pipe Company provided a total of 9,000 feet of pipe (1,960′ of 90″ was the main spec., .500 wall, CML X CMC), and Yvonne Green, director of marketing communications, has this to say about the experience: “SSC is professional; they understand the importance of quality and have a dedicated staff. We see them as a trustworthy business partner … and our experience in working with SSC has always been positive.”

The city established a goal of utilizing Minority, Women and Emerging Small Businesses (MWESB) to complete 35 percent of the subcontracted work on the project. SSC worked diligently to award subcontracts to not only MWESB contractors, but also to emphasize the use of local Portland/Southwest Washington area contractors for the project. To date, SSC has subcontracted over $7 million to local MWESB firms.

The project’s significant scope prompted the Portland Water Bureau to split the work into two phases. The first phase aimed to complete the majority of the initial site excavation and storm water control measures. The second phase, which was contracted to SSC, includes the final excavation for the 50 million-gallon storage reservoir, complete with large diameter steel water piping, large vaults, valves and electrical instrumentation, as well as several buildings and final park improvements. The total project duration is expected to span five years and be completed in 2014. The Portland Water Bureau, in conjunction with Portland Parks and Recreation, will oversee both phases of construction.

Managing Multiple Fronts

Improvements to the park will include the addition of a permanent caretaker’s residence and maintenance facilities. In addition, there will be constructed an interpretive center for visitors to learn about the city’s water system as a whole, from the Bull Run Watershed to the Powell Butte Reservoir system and the user’s faucet.

Given the sensitive nature of the project, SSC has taken great efforts to ensure the Powell Butte Reservoir project is completed with respect for the neighborhood and park users alike. The Portland Water Bureau and SSC have taken extensive steps to provide traffic control, pedestrian fencing and other measures to allow the park to remain open to the public throughout construction. In order to ensure the safety of both the construction staff and the public, some access roads to the park will be reserved for construction personnel. With the extension construction taking place, the annual summer concert series will continue as scheduled but will be relocated for the next two years to other local parks. In order to support the concert series, SSC is sponsoring some of the concert activities.

Due to the sensitive nature of the site, extensive erosion control efforts have and will continue to be made in order to protect the surrounding waterways. Rainwater will be pumped from the excavated area and de-silted before being discharged responsibly into the neighboring Johnson Creek. Prior to completion of the project, the entire site will undergo a full landscape restoration complete with stabilizing erosion control measures. The project team’s goal is to return the park to its natural condition with exception of the access improvements.

A New Standard in Service

SSC’s motto is “setting a new standard in project deliver.” In order to achieve that standard, SSC provides each of its clients with a reliable and open outlet to express even the tiniest concerns throughout the construction process.

“I know we have a highly qualified and capable staff,” admits Nehmens. “I don’t worry about that at all, but my concern is to always provide the client with a platform to provide us with feedback, because there’s always something that needs taking care of and SSC wants to be sure we understand what the client’s needs and concerns are.”

Communication is a two-way street and SSC plans on being equally as vocal with the community to avoid any confusion and minimize disruptions to the neighborhood. “At some point we will be installing very large-diameter pipeline in the street to connect the reservoir to the city’s distribution infrastructure,” he says. “We want to be sure we keep the public posted of any changes to our schedule to ensure minimal disruptions.”
The project is slated for completion in late 2014. Even though the project may be one of SSC’s largest in the Pacific Northwest, Nehmens is confident it will be anything but SSC’s last.

“Many companies took the opportunity to expand their geographical focus or their scope of services in lieu of the economic downturn, and we did a little bit of both,” admits Nehmens. “We established our Northwest office as a home for our employees to grow as a company and we look forward to building relationships with clients by providing them with the best value possible.”

Jim Hall, project manager for SSC, is leading the Powell Butte Reservoir project. The project requires the help of SSC project engineers, field engineers, a site superintendent, several foremen and an on-site safety coordinator, each of who have been handpicked by SSC to find success in the Pacific Northwest.

This significant expansion of the Powell Butte system will double the city of Portland’s water storage capacity. In addition, the project will ensure SSC Construction Inc. continues to build a legacy of attentive client communication and carry out a mission of setting a new standard in project delivery.

Published on: March 13, 2013

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