W. Warner Williams Water Resource Complex

Nationally Recognized Water Treatment Project

Inducted in 2016

Opened in May 2013, the W. Warner Williams Water Resource Complex in Opelika, Alabama, developed by Krebs Engineering of Birmingham and staff at the Utilities Board of the City of Opelika, is a nationally-recognized water resource complex that enables the treatment facilities to consistently surpass all required drinking water standards. The emphasis on efficiency and sustainability exceeded all expectations. It enables the Utilities Board to maximize plant staff productivity and optimize plant operational flexibility while integrating operations into the Board’s entire water system.

In a departure from typical water treatment projects, the Board undertook the replacement of the city’s 1940’s-era water treatment plant at Saugahathcee Lake with a project that placed equal emphasis on both process engineering and architectural design. Several technical issues associated with the project added complexity to the design process. These included the need to meet evolving water quality treatment requirements while providing a means to incorporate sustainable design principles, below grade structure construction and extensive pipe routing through subsurface rock, wetlands within project site, centralizing heat and cooling for the entire 11-acre complex, and re-use of equipment from the existing facilities. Also, the Board wanted to avoid buildings that felt institutional, therefore there was the challenge of integrating the engineering parameters into a design that addresses these challenges and provides a connection with the natural environment.

Constructed on an 11-acre campus at the Board’s pristine 415-acre water supply reservoir, new facilities include a water treatment facility that can handle 8 million gallons per day, 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, and 18,000-square-foot membrane filtration and chemical facility, onsite generation of chlorine/bleach and a finished water-pumping station. A state-of-the-art laboratory is also provided. 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 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified.

The site location was a previously undeveloped peninsula on the four hundred acre reservoir and is intended to be a paradigm for municipal treatment construction within an environmentally sensitive watershed. Innovative techniques used for this project include provision of membrane filtration for meeting stringent water quality regulations, treatment of process wastewater for use either irrigation or is recycled and re-treated for consumption, use of forested buffer zones between the buildings and lake, use of bio-swales and natural wetland treatment of stormwater runoff and process water overflows, and use permeable pavers to filter vehicular contaminates. Also, the site is landscaped with native plant species to avoid fertilizer run-off. In lieu of gutters, gravel trenches topped with flagstone are used at most building driplines – a feature which allows roof water infiltration into the site.

The complex won the 2015 Grand Award for Engineering Excellence, the top prize given by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Alabama, and was recognized by the national ACEC as an Engineering Excellence Award winner. Krebs Engineering was honored as the number one engineering firm in Alabama for the project.

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