by Allen Pigeon, LC, LEED AP, Senior Electrical Designer and Kevin Flood, PE, Associate
We practice fire drills for a reason – it’s so we have routine to draw on when an emergency happens. When faced with new or stressful situations, we cannot always rely on practical decision making. The same is true for backup or redundant systems. No one wants to be making tough choices (or waiting for those choices to be implemented) when the need for response is immediate.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and CTDEEP offer programs to provide subsidized loans for the purchase and/or installation of emergency power generators to operate critical drinking water infrastructure during power outages. The “Gen Sets” provide backup power and allow facilities to remain operational during prolonged outages. This is obviously critical for critical facilities like hospitals and health care facilities. Less obvious is how important these backup systems are to facilities like wastewater treatment plants. Without power, raw wastewater could be sent into a stream or water body that could adversely affect quality and plant/animal species and add to an already catastrophic situation.
City water also provides water to sprinkler systems within buildings. If system pumps lose power, then the fire protection within buildings will lack available water. The life safety requirements of a building may also be impacted and require either a fire watch (costly implication) and/or the closure of the building until water service is restored.
Recognizing the importance of these backup systems, some Connecticut communities have already taken proactive steps. When upgrading their Water Pollution Control Facility, the Town of Groton added a second electrical service. Once this was completed, the Town wanted to provide an additional emergency generator to provide backup power for this new service as well as provide complete coverage and reliability/redundancy in case of a power outage.
As part of our work on this project, Fuss & O’Neill added a second emergency generator (550 KW) to the new second service. Additional improvements included a new above ground, double-walled tank for the new generator, carrier pipes for the fuel piping, and an additional sensor to monitor the piping for potential spills. Our work also included finalizing an interconnection between the original service and the new service by using a manual kirk key system to transfer loads between the two services in case either of the tow generator was offline for service or maintenance.
While backup systems seem like an obvious choice in terms of safety and operational stability, they come at additional cost. We have been successful at obtaining funding for many of our clients’ projects. This funding has helped install emergency generators at numerous pump stations, treatment plants, and potable water supplies. Funding from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, and the United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development that we have utilized to get these critical pieces of reliability and redundancy installed.
This funding can be used to implement changes that will save money in the long run. Keeping systems operational during emergencies prevents further damage and additional cleanup. Much like a fire drill, preparing for an emergency leads to pragmatic choices and sound solutions.
About the Authors:
Allen Pigeon, LC, LEED AP is the Senior Electrical Designer in our Manchester, CT office. His experience involves the design of electrical systems associated with buildings. This includes the code research, calculations, preparation of specifications and drawings, cost estimating and construction administration. Allen’s areas of expertise in electrical design include coordination with utility companies, site electrical distribution, site lighting, building power distribution, emergency power distribution, interior lighting, fire alarm, public address systems, and data and telecommunication systems.
Kevin Flood, PE has over 27 years of water, wastewater and water resources experience that includes numerous studies, designs and construction projects. Some specific experience includes the design of groundwater treatment facilities, booster pumping stations, wastewater pump stations, stormwater pumping stations, elevated and ground level storage tanks, as well as water main extensions and replacements. He has managed the design and construction of many wastewater and water projects including pumping stations, wastewater process equipment, repairs to water supply dams and their associated mechanical equipment, and even dam removal.