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McCarthy Undertaking Three Phases of Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant

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In order to meet the needs of a growing population and to shift from reliance on groundwater to surface water as the source for its drinking water, the City of Houston and four regional water authority partners are currently undertaking a 320MGD $1.765B design-build expansion of the Northeast Water Purification Plant (NEWPP). It is currently the largest progressive design-build water treatment plant project underway in Texas and in the United States. McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., a member of multiple AGC chapters, through the Houston Waterworks Team, was awarded three separate contracts on the project - the early works Central Plant foundations package which broke ground in June 2018, the raw water Intake Pump Station which began in early 2019, and the balance of the Central Plant which started in August 2019. The NEWPP project’s first 80MGD phase will be in operation in early 2023, the balance of McCarthy’s construction work will be complete in 2024, and the overall 320MGD plant will be in full operation in early 2025.

“Water projects have been and will continue to be a big part of what we do at McCarthy,” said Kurt Knebel, McCarthy’s executive vice president. “We are proud to be selected by a prominent team for one of its largest and most complex projects in years; it is a true testament to the quality of work our heavy civil/marine/industrial team produces.”

McCarthy’s involvement on the NEWPP project consists of three distinct construction work packages of work that will allow for an additional 320-million-gallon-per-day capacity. First is the early works Central Plant foundations package, which consists of furnishing as well as installing all rebar and structural concrete, embeds, pipe penetrations and under-slab process mechanical piping on the west Filter Module and Transfer Pump Station facilities. The second package is for the construction of a 30,000-square-foot raw water Intake Pump Station building, which includes an access bridge, constructed on pilings 1,000 feet from the shore within the middle of Lake Houston.

The third package includes the balance of construction of the Central Plant, which will consist of a full buildout of the two facilities already underway as part of the early works package to complete Phase 1, as well as the rest of the filters, the second Transfer Pump Station, and post-chemical facilities for Phase 2. As part of the Central Plant work McCarthy is building the largest filters in Texas.

Throughout the project, McCarthy’s team will self-perform several aspects of the job including:

  • Process piping
  • Process equipment installation
  • Pile driving
  • Concrete work
  • Metal installation
  • Earth work 

Other marine/treatment plant projects McCarthy has completed include the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) surface water facilities and the Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility – Peak Flow Basin. Additionally, McCarthy has extensive experience along the Texas coast with Port Houston including the construction of Bayport Phase I Wharf and Wharf 2, Bayport Phase I Stage 1 and Phase I Stage 2 Container Yards, Bayport Truck Gate Complex and Bayport Port Road. McCarthy is also currently working on the new Container Yard 7 as well as the rehabilitation of Wharf 3 within Barbours Cut Container Terminal at Port Houston as part of the latest expansion efforts, both slated for completion in 2020.


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