• 300 S. Firestone Street, Suite 200-C Gastonia, NC 28052
  • 400 E. King Street, Kings Mountain, NC 28086

Tag Archives: civil engineering

Case Study: Smart Water System Project Management Creates Funding for City Infrastructure Plan

The Thrasher Group North Carolina Completes City Water System Replacement Project Under Budget, Funding Forward-Thinking 5-Year Water Infrastructure Plan

Project Overview:

High Shoals, NC Water System Replacement (Phase 1)
The City of High Shoals’ public water supply infrastructure included thousands of feet of water line at or nearing end of life. The water system was experiencing frequent breaks and losing water each day. To prevent increased maintenance costs and potential interruptions to service, the city needed a plan to replace the water line.

The City of High Shoals hired The Thrasher Group North Carolina to design and replace the water system. The project was funded by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Water System Replacement

Project Goals

  • Replace the largest water line segment in the City (5,980 linear feet)
  • Replace faulty meters, 73 meters hooked directly into the line
  • Reduce water loss (thousands of gallons per day)
  • Ensure cutover to new water line with minimal disruption to water service
  • Work with local grant writer to secure Community Development Block Grant
  • Meet all applicable North Carolina state regulations

Civil Engineering & Surveying Services Provided

  • Design Surveys
  • Design
  • Plans & Specifications
  • Permitting Coordination
  • Contract Documents
  • Bidding Services
  • Construction Administration
  • Right-of-Way/Easement Acquisition Surveying & Mapping
  • Final Project Certification

Project Approach
The Thrasher Group North Carolina took a phased approach to the water line replacement needed in High Shoals. This case study focuses on the first Phase of the project, which involved replacing the largest water line segment in the city (over 3,000 feet of 12 inch water line, around 1,000 feet of 8 inch water line and 1,500 feet of 6 inch water line). 

The second phase of the project will involve replacing the remaining water lines in town and The City of High Shoals, NC, is currently in the application process for another grant for Phase 2 of the project.

Project Challenges
One of the main challenges of the project was that the new water system replacement needed to be installed without disrupting water services to the residents. The Thrasher Group would need to work closely with the City of High Shoals to develop a phased plan that would minimize downtime to the community’s water services.

Another challenge of the project was that each phase or section of the new water line had to be disinfected and pressure tested before residences could be connected. This process took several weeks to complete and required Engineer inspections and NC State approval.

Project Outcomes
The project was a success, completed on time and under budget.

  • Minimal Downtime – Leveraging jumpers installed at key locations through the project, The Thrasher Group North Carolina successfully replaced the main feeder lines while keeping water service active, with minimal disruption to services for local residents and institutions.
  • Completed On Time – The Thrasher Group successfully managed the water system replacement construction timeline and key milestones like Engineer inspections and NC State approval. The project was completed on time.
  • Completed Under Budget – Because the project was completed under budget, the Division of Water Infrastructure (DWI) permitted the City of High Shoals to use some of the remaining grant funds to pay for updating the City’s Asset Management Plan.  Thrasher was able to update the Asset Management Plan and Capital Improvement Plan that they had originally prepared for the City.  This updated inventory of all water and sewer assets by condition and age will position High Shoals to proactively build out its water infrastructure, preventing future water loss and service disruptions.

Client Quote
“The Thrasher Group North Carolina did an excellent job on this project. They were very professional and worked closely with us to minimize interruption to water service for our community during the replacement.”
P.J. Rathbone, High Shoals, NC, Mayor

North Carolina’s Water Infrastructure Challenges

Growing communities across North Carolina continue to face water infrastructure challenges in meeting their water and sewer needs, leading to moratoriums on new site development, water shortages and sewer overflows.

In fact, in the past 20 years, over 30 North Carolina communities  have had a moratorium on new development due to water or sewer capacity constraints.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is working to address water services challenges through various programs, such as The Clean Water State Revolving Fund. This initiative provides low-interest loans to communities for wastewater infrastructure projects.

While these initiatives have decreased the number of moratoriums in recent years, it is still essential for North Carolina communities experiencing rapid growth to proactively seek assistance from professional resources like water systems engineering firms.

Civil engineering firms with a background in water system planning can play a pivotal role in auditing existing water inventory and ultimately creating and implementing comprehensive 20-year infrastructure plans.  This article explores 5 ways professional water systems engineers can help growing populations to meet their current and future water needs.

1. Water Systems Inventory Assessment

The first step in preparing water and sewer systems is a comprehensive assessment of the existing water supply system. A water systems engineering firm has the resources to conduct thorough audits of existing water system inventory, evaluating the count/length, condition, capacity, and performance of waterlines, taps, hydrants, manholes, treatment plants, pump stations, storage facilities, distribution networks and more. The assessment may also break down inventory as residential, commercial and industrial.

This assessment serves as the foundation for informed decision-making. It may include recommendations for:

  • Immediate repairs
  • Ongoing maintenance with suggested cadence
  • Immediate upfits and 20-year infrastructure upgrade plan

In some cases the assessment may also recommend that the community focus on community water use awareness, in cases where water conservation practices could easily reduce strain on the existing infrastructure.

2. Water Systems Inventory Management

An initial inventory assessment is needed, but ongoing inventory management is crucial for future success. Inventory management ensures the continued smooth operation of water and sewer systems.

Civil engineering firms utilize advanced techniques, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to create detailed inventories of assets. This includes waterline, pipes, pumps, valves, meters, and treatment facilities, and their current condition (i.e. the waterline may be aging in certain locations and likely to fail if not replaced). GIS can also be used to model the flow of water through pipes and waterlines. This information can be used to identify areas where there is a risk of water pressure problems or contamination.

Accurate inventories enable efficient maintenance, timely replacements, and strategic water system planning, preventing unexpected water infrastructure failures.

3. Demand Projections and Capacity Planning

Professional water systems engineering resources can work with communities to analyze population growth and water use patterns to forecast water and sewer demands. Our water and sewer engineers recommend the creation of a 20-year plan to ensure that infrastructure upgrades keep pace with growth.

Water systems engineers can assess the current system’s capacity and identify areas for enhancements to meet future population demands on the water infrastructure. Engineers use this data to upfit water systems to accommodate current requirements and design water infrastructure expansion plans, ensuring longevity and preventing failure.

In addition to water systems planning, most engineering firms offer end-to-end services, including the design and implementation of water services projects, along with construction monitoring and oversight services –  ensuring the project is completed correctly, on time and within budget.

4. Innovative Solutions and Water Systems Modeling

Civil engineering firms can bring innovative solutions to the table. This may include the implementation of smart technologies for real-time remote monitoring via sensors installed on water systems assets (e.g. leak detection systems) or the integration of renewable energy sources for sustainable operations.

Civil engineers can leverage water systems modeling software to simulate the performance of water systems under different conditions. These models can then be used to identify potential design problems and risk of operational failures before they occur.

5. Environmental Impact Assessment:

Growing communities must balance development needs with environmental conservation. Civil engineering firms conduct comprehensive environmental impact assessments, ensuring that any expansions or new infrastructure projects meet regulatory standards and minimize ecological disruption. This proactive approach fosters environmental sustainability.

In some cases, civil engineers will help communities to implement water conservation and reuse programs to reduce demand on the water system. This includes developing and implementing water use restrictions, public education campaigns, and water-efficient technologies.

6. Community Engagement and Compliance

Civil engineering firms actively engage with the community stakeholders. By fostering open communication, they address concerns, gather feedback, and incorporate community needs into the design and planning processes.

Additionally, civil engineers ensure that all plans adhere to local, state, and federal regulations, guaranteeing compliance. Water systems engineers can also help with generating reports needed for regulatory bodies and stakeholders on water quality, usage and system performance.

Does your growing community need water systems engineering help?

The Thrasher Group North Carolina is proud to support communities with consulting engineering and field services including survey, materials testing and construction management. To talk to one of our team members about your community’s water services needs, fill out our contact form or give us a call at 704-864-2201.

A History of Successful Projects and Repeat Clientele

Our company history goes back to 1983, when H. Wood “Woody” Thrasher, PE, a young engineer with an entrepreneurial spirit, started a civil engineering firm with his father, a seasoned engineer himself. Their philosophy was centered around the commitment to building business through successful projects and the idea that strong relationships lead to repeat clientele.

Since that time, The Thrasher Group – a multi-disciplinary firm composed of professionals in civil engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, environmental, and field services – has been growing throughout Appalachia and the Mid-Atlantic region.

Woody operates The Thrasher Group North Carolina – a separate company with roots that go back to 1964 as Robinson & Sawyer – under the same principles. Our team is dedicated to improving communities where we live and work right here in the western Piedmont region and across the border in upstate South Carolina. We bring talented, home-grown professionals together in a collaborative environment and give them opportunities to do meaningful work on projects that matter to local residents.

By listening to our clients and prioritizing their needs, we are able to find strategies and solutions that continue to produce successful projects and strong relationships.