Featured Engineer: Penfield and Smith

Romtec Utilities works nationally with engineering firms and contractors, and in California, we worked on three separate projects with Penfield and Smith and Tierra Contracting that were big, complex, and very successful. These two firms have very specific expertise in their respective fields, and using Romtec Utilities for lift station expertise, three large and difficult projects were accomplished with no problems. Over the next two weeks, we’ll look at both Penfield and Smith and Tierra Contracting to see how Romtec Utilities worked with these two different organizations to complete impressive pump and lift station projects.

Penfield and Smith

As mentioned, Romtec Utilities works with engineering companies across the country, and Penfield and Smith is one of the leading engineering firms in Southern and Central California. They employ specialized engineers for disciplines such as surveying, civil structures, transportation, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and more. This diversity allows Penfield and Smith to participate in many different types of projects, and some require pump and lift stations.

The first project that Penfield and Smith brought to Romtec Utilities was for a new lift station for the Goleta Sanitary District in Santa Barbara, CA. Penfield and Smith was hired to solve a problem for the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. Two creeks were threatening the airport safety and needed to be redirected. This plan, however, generated several environmental concerns that needed to be addressed. A very small portion of the total project was a new wastewater lift station and control building.

When engineering a large project at a high profile location, a lift station can seem of relative little importance. However, lift stations are sophisticated mechanical and electrical systems that need to work consistently for decades. In order to focus its engineers on specific areas of expertise, Penfield and Smith chose to utilize Romtec Utilities for the lift station portion of this project.

The completed lift station from Romtec Utilities included a large control building with the electric control panel, backup generator, automatic transfer switch, utility power meter, odor controls, and other components. Outside the building the wet well, valve vault, odor control chemical tank, electrical disconnect stand, and other components are arranged in an accessible space with vehicle access. Getting a sophisticated and complete lift station designed and supplied by Romtec Utilities allowed Penfield and Smith to focus its efforts on areas of the bigger project within its expertise. Next week, we’ll see how Romtec Utilities worked with Tierra Contracting on the construction of this lift station.

On another project, Penfield and Smith was involved on “one of the largest public improvement projects ever in Santa Barbara.” This project involved large amounts of drainage lines and massive 8’ x 8’ reinforced concrete box segments composing 2,200’ of one of the largest drainage facilities for stormwater in the municipal district. Also including the addition parking garages and relocating infrastructure, Penfield and Smith was involved in a lot of work on and offsite of Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA.

Similar to the Goleta Sanitary project, this large scale public improvement project involved the addition of a pumping system. In this case, a stormwater pump station was needed at the hospital. Penfield and Smith again chose to use Romtec Utilities for the design and supply of this pump station. The Romtec Utilities design became the specified system and was taken out to bid, and Tierra Contracting won the construction. Romtec Utilities created a simple cost-saving design for this stormwater system.

This system included several design features to both reduce the system cost and to fulfill the requirements of the site. These features included using a 50’ dual force main. This economic design feature does not require valves or force main junctions, saving significant component costs. The entire system was also designed to be installed in a primary driveway for the hospital. This required that the entire systems be designed and installed at a precise finish grade. It also required design features such as an in-ground junction box to be used to connect the in-well electrical components. This project saved Penfield and Smith money on this aspect of the project while they focused on other phases of the project.

Beginning in 1998, the City of Carpinteria, CA began a difficult project to switch the 72-home community of Rincon Point from septic systems to municipal sewer. The difficulties of this project included that Rincon Point is a small peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, the entire community is located downhill of the City wastewater treatment facility and is also located on the opposite side of Highway 101, the primary coastal highway for the State of California. Penfield and Smith was brought in to engineer and solve these difficult construction scenarios for Carpinteria.

In order to move sewage from the Rincon Point community to the City wastewater treatment facility, a large wastewater lift station was needed, and Romtec Utilities was selected as the design firm for the system. The lift station needed to handle very high head conditions in order to pump the wastewater up more than 3,200’ of force main with 158’ TDH (total dynamic head). To meet these pumping requirements, the lift station design included 23 hp pumps in a duplex configuration. The lift station design also included a large precast tank for emergency storage. Due to the proximity of the lift station to the beach (less than 100’), the storage tank was included to protect the surrounding environment from any type of system failure.

Romtec Utilities and Penfield and Smith worked together in the same way for this project as with the Goleta Sanitary and Cottage Hospital projects. The total sewer addition involved a substantial amount of work, and the project location posed a significant challenge. Penfield and Smith trusted Romtec Utilities to design a lift station that would meet the difficult pumping requirements and also be robust enough to be installed next to the ocean. This project also included Tierra Contracting as the lift station installer.

Working with Penfield and Smith demonstrates how Romtec Utilities can provide value to reputable engineering firms that have pump or lift station projects. Next week, we’ll look at these three projects again through the perspective of Tierra Contracting and Romtec Utilities. Then we will see how Romtec Utilities can also be successful when working with contractors.