EQUIPed contractor continues to grow

Established for over 90 years, MJ Gleeson has undertaken water and wastewater engineering work for over half a century, last year its turnover in the water industry totalled £62 million. To keep up with changes it has adapted its organization and capabilities to stay at the forefront. In addition, its EQUIP agreement with Thames Water could set the benchmark for partnering projects of the future.

MJ Gleeson Group has carried out over £539 million worth of work in the water industry over the last 25 years, equivalent to £0.75 billion at today’s values. Combine this with the experience that the company has gained in over 50 years of engineering work in the water and wastewater industry it is no surprise that it is one of the top ten UK water contractors. It was one of the first companies to be selected for design and construct projects in the British water industry.

The pumped storage scheme for Colliford Reservoir under construction at the Restormel WTW

Since the first design and consult contract was awarded, Gleeson has seen a change in the type of contracts in the industry. Over 90 per cent of Gleeson’s current turnover in the industry is now on a design and construct basis, with 75 per cent carried out through partnering arrangements.

This has also been seen north of the border in Scotland. While Gleeson, along with Thames Water and Montgomery Watson as the Stirling Water consortium has just been named as preferred bidder for the East of Scotland Water’s Seafield and Almond Valley improvement project, and is also bidding for the Esk Water and Meadowhead PFI projects, an increase, especially over the last six months, has been seen in the number of design and construct contracts for Scottish water projects.

Gleeson reacted to this by changing the structure of its Scottish Construction operations. “The Engineering Division, which has a wealth of experience in design and construction projects, has now extended its operations to cover Scotland. The existing Scottish Construction Division will continue with traditional building contracts,” explained Steve Challis, business development manager.

The Seafield and Almond Valley PFI project will involve Stirling Water taking over five treatment works for at least the next 30 years. During this time, Stirling Water will upgrade the works, manage the plant and recycle the sludge produced.

While the Engineering Division has expertise in a range of civil, MICA and processing engineering, it also has the ability to design and construct a complete package. ECL, the process engineering arm of the engineering division, specialises in the design and construction of anaerobic sludge digestion plants, together with a range of products for industrial effluent treatment. This allows technical knowledge to be inputted into new projects.

The EQUIP (effluent quality improvement process) is a four year partnership agreement between Gleeson and Thames Water Utilities (with Montgomery Watson as Gleeson’s design partner) that could set the benchmark for partnering projects of the future. Out of the 50 sewage treatment works which are to be upgraded and refurbished, work is now in hand on 30 projects.

The team approach from partnering is favoured by all companies involved because it removes the defensive mechanisms that exist between clients and contractors. This is achieved by including all the partners in the team situation from the beginning to the end, in defining problems and agreeing solutions. All this combines to eliminate conflict and broaden experience. The EQUIP team also won the ‘Thames Water Utilities Engineering Design Team of the Year (1996) Award.’

The future also looks good, especially as Gleeson already has £65 million of secured work on its forward order book for the next three years as a result of major partnering agreements.

Pumped storage scheme for Colliford Reservoir

A lack of rainfall in recent years resulted in South West Water’s (SWW’s) 28,900ML Colliford impounding reservoir not being full since 1994.

By the end of July, with no sign of a break in the weather, SWW decided to proceed with a pumped storage scheme. With speed being of paramount performance, a fast track six month design and construct partnering project, with MJ Gleeson and BPD Group, commenced in July 1997. The project involved the construction of an intake and pumping station at Restormel WTW, abstracting water just above the tidal reaches of the River Fowey and pumping it via 17km of 1,000mm pipeline to Colliford Reservoir.

In order to increase storage in the reservoir by a minimum of ten per cent before summer 1998, the scheme had to be operational by the end of January 1998. An extension to the river intake was constructed along with a deep sump pumping station. The pumping station houses five, six stage submersible pumps each having a duty of 11Ml/day at 282m head and rated at 525kW at 415V. Ultimately the pumping station is capable of accommodating ten pumps. In order to meet the programme deadline, design and construction had to proceed in parallel. Early decisions by the partnering team workshop were required regarding the configuration of the pumping plant – one or two pumping stations, submersible pumps or not, and the extent of surge protection. Various designs were evaluated to find the most effective in terms of cost, ease of construction and minimum disruption to the treatment works upgrade and extension.

The common goal of the project was to deliver a high quality and fully functional scheme on time and under budget. This goal was achieved on all counts with the intake pumping station and on-site mains costing £2.6m.

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