Featured Contractor: Tierra Contracting

Last week, Romtec Utilities featured Penfield and Smith as an engineering firm that designed three large projects involving Romtec Utilities pumping systems. What’s unique is that the same three projects all involved the same contractor as well: Tierra Contracting. This week, we will take a look at the same three projects from the perspective of construction and installation. Romtec Utilities works on projects everyday with engineers and contractors alike and these three project examples show advantages that we provide to the supply and installation of pumping systems.

Tierra Contracting

Tierra Contracting is one of the most prolific contracting firms in the areas around Goleta, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and San Louis Obispo. Tierra Contracting focuses on several areas of construction, including concrete, underground utilities, basins, asphalt, and more. These skills lend themselves particularly well to the challenges of installing a pumping system in the ground. The reliability and experience of Tierra Contracting makes it a consistent choice for pump and lift station systems in the Southwestern, coastal region of California.

This Project, as discussed last week, centered on solving several environmental concerns at the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. One aspect of the larger project was the design and installation of a large and sophisticated wastewater lift station. Even to date, this project remains one of the prime examples of what a lift station site should look like. Tierra Contracting provided numerous services during the construction and installation of this project, and the final result is an impressive facility for wastewater management.

From a construction perspective, this large lift station installation had a wide range of installation requirements that can be difficult to find through a single contractor. The bulk of the lift station structural components get installed below grade, with a wet well, valve vault, meter vault, and piping. This project also, however, required a control building, a concrete tank pad, concrete walls, and a graded concrete surface. Finding a contractor that can handle the in-ground construction as well as the above-ground construction is not always easy, but Tierra Contracting had the specific expertise for this construction project.

Along with the structural installation requirements, the Goleta Sanitary lift station required a lot of mechanical and electrical installation as well. Romtec Utilities preinstalls many mechanical components, such as the meter and valve vaults, but this lift station included a crane, odor control system, emergency wash-down station, and other unique features. Tierra Contracting managed the complete installation of these components to install this comprehensive wastewater lift station. Romtec Utilities, as with every project, provided an onsite advisor to provide advice and assistance for this installation of the system.

For the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital stormwater pump station, the construction requirements were much less demanding. As discussed last week, this project was “one of the largest public improvement projects ever in Santa Barbara.” The pump station construction for this project was fairly typical, and the design and manufacturing services provided by Romtec Utilities help make construction projects like this straightforward for experienced contractors like Tierra Contracting.

The most challenging construction aspect of this project was ensuring that the complete pump station was installed at a precise finish grade. The pump station installation site was located in the driveway of a main entrance for the hospital. So the entire pump station, complete with the below-grade structural components, electrical junction box, and access hatches, needed to be traffic rated. This also meant that the complete system could handle occasional loads from vehicles. In order for the entrance driveway to be functional, Tierra Contracting needed to ensure that the complete system was installed at the finish grade of the driveway.

This project was successfully installed by Tierra Contracting in the midst of other construction phases of the total stormwater improvement. Romtec Utilities provides an onsite installation technician for each project, but he or she is only there to advise on the pump station installation. When installing a pump or lift station in the midst of a bigger construction project, one important consideration is finding a contractor that can complete its portion of the project without interfering with other work. Tierra Contracting has the type of experience to work successfully in these conditions.

A construction project such as Rincon Point has a lot of difficult aspects. The installation of this lift station was part of the Tierra Contracting scope as well as the installation of over 3,500’ of force main up Highway 101. These facts alone constitute a major project, but many challenges come simply from working with multiple organizations. The Carpinteria Sanitary District was the project manager; Penfield and Smith engineered the septic-to-sewer conversion; Caltrans manages Highway 101 (where the force main was installed); Romtec Utilities designed and supplied the lift station; and Travis Agricultural Construction installed the new components inside the 72-home community. Tierra Contracting was responsible for understanding the roles of each organization and meeting their needs and expectations.

Navigating a project with this many organizations is challenging, without forgetting the system installation challenges. The Rincon Point wastewater lift station was designed to handle the very specific pumping requirements of its location. The location of the lift station is under 200’ from the beach and the Pacific Ocean. On top of the environmental concerns associated with collecting and pumping wastewater so close to the ocean, this lift station also had to account for the corrosive conditions created by salt water in the air. In order to resolve these concerns, Romtec Utilities designed the lift station to include a control building to protect the major electrical components, odor controls for the beachgoers, and an in-ground storage tank for emergency backup.

The total lift station installation required below-grade and above-grade expertise just like with the Goleta Sanitary project. Tierra Contracting successfully navigated the organization and installation challenges of this project to install this complete lift station system and the upstream and downstream connections. The Carpinteria Sanitary District was very pleased with the work completed by Tierra Contracting on this project. Tierra was able to complete its entire scope as well as fulfill additional requests by the District that were made in the field to improve its management of the lift station.

Romtec Utilities works with contractors all the time to supply complete lift stations for all types of applications. Tierra Contracting is a great organization because of its particular ability to handle the unique requirements that are needed with pump and lift station systems. Looking at Penfield and Smith and Tierra Contracting is a good way to see two organizations that can consistently integrate pump and lift station systems into their work while working with a designer and supplier like Romtec Utilities. For this area of Southern California, this combination has been very successful on these and hopefully future projects.