N.J. American Water finishes $37M upgrade to critical Raritan-Millstone plant

Superstorm Sandy was a wakeup call to many about the necessity to protect water infrastructure in the country — an idea that only has been reinforced by damages caused from natural disasters in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and now North Carolina.

That’s why New Jersey American Water was thrilled to announce the completion of its long-term flood protection project at its Raritan-Millstone Water Treatment Plant on Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the grounds of the plant.

Deborah Degillio, the president of New Jersey American Water, said the $37 million project will help ensure the water supply at the plant is protected from the increased risk of flooding during extreme weather events, while maintaining a sustainable water supply for more than 1 million people in the central New Jersey region.

With the completion of this project, the entire floodwall system at the plant has now been raised by 4 feet, to an elevation of 48 feet, which is the level of flood resiliency supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The raising of the floodwall now provides flood protection from storm events up to 500-year recurring frequency.

“We have fortified this critical infrastructure in order to provide clean, safe, reliable water service — not only to our customers in central New Jersey who rely on us every day, but also the millions of residents throughout the state we help during emergency situations,” she said.

The Raritan-Millstone Water Treatment Plant, situated in Bridgewater, is New Jersey American Water’s largest water production facility and a regional source of potable water supply for all or parts of seven counties in central New Jersey. It produces an average system delivery of 132 million gallons a day and is capable of peaking at 190 million.

The Raritan-Millstone facility is listed as a Tier 1 New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness facility and is considered “Critical Infrastructure” by the federal Department of Homeland Security. Water supply from the plant is also provided to five large bulk water sales connections, and two Critical Regional Emergency Interconnections — the cities of Newark and Trenton.

The plant is located near the confluence of the Raritan and Millstone Rivers — an area of Somerset County that experiences severe flooding during significant storm events due to the relative low ground surface elevations in the floodways adjacent to the two rivers.

Prior to the $37 million investment project, the earthen berms and north side reinforced concrete flood wall surrounding the plant were previously designed to provide flood protection for a 100-year flood event, which is marked by an elevation of 44 feet. The system of flood protection had been tested three times in recent years, with peak flood water levels recorded within inches from the top of the berm/wall.

In addition to raising the plant’s north reinforced concrete floodwall to 48 feet, the earthen berms in the northeast and west have also been raised and widened, additional reinforced concrete flood walls have been constructed, new flood gates have been installed and drainage mechanisms have been improved.

New Jersey American Water contracted with AECOM for design engineering and KC Construction Inc. as the general construction contractor. The majority of the cost of raising the floodwall, which amounts to approximately $27.2 million, is being funded through low-interest financing from New Jersey Infrastructure Bank in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

“Today is the result of countless hours of planning and 18 months of construction made possible by hundreds of professionals who came together to make our vision of protecting this facility a reality,” Degillio said.