SFPUC Commissioners Ann Moller Caen and Sophie Maxwell got an inside look at the current work taking place at the Southeast Treatment Plant (SEP) on Monday, July 22.
Both commissioners were accompanied by General Manager Harlan Kelly, Chief Strategy Officer Juliet Ellis, and Wastewater Enterprise (WWE) staff.
“We’re glad to have the commissioners here so they can see us at work and gain a better understanding of the complexities associated with operating a plant while also having large projects in construction,” said Andy Clark, WWE Bayside Superintendent.
George Engel, Wastewater Operations Division Manager, took the commissioners through the wastewater treatment process from start to finish, while also pointing out how the Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP) will help transform SEP into a modern resource recovery center.
Senior Project Managers Jignesh Desai and Carolyn Chiu briefed the commissioners on their projects including: current demolition taking place at the Headworks facility (the first step in the wastewater treatment process) and the status of the Biosolids Digester Facilities Project (BDFP) that will replace and relocate the outdated existing solids treatment facilities with seismic upgrades and modern technology.
Commissioner Caen inquired on how the projects will incorporate climate change and rising sea levels, two issues included in the SSIP’s Levels of Service goals that call for new facilities to be built using a climate change design criterion. Incorporating these forward-thinking design elements will ensure these facilities are built with projected sea level rise in mind. As an example, Desai pointed out that critical electrical equipment will be enclosed on the second floor of a two-story building, rather than unsheltered on the ground, as is the current location.
Clark then led a tour of the SEP which included stops at: the demonstration garden, where food is being grown with Class A biosolids from the Oceanside Treatment Plant, the primary sedimentation tanks where they had an elevated vantage point to witness the demolition of the Headworks building up close, and the future site of the BDFP.
Both Chiu and Desai fielded questions from the commissioners about their projects’ timelines, sequencing, geotechnical work, and local workforce development efforts.
While the project managers are concerned with site constraints and efficient delivery, WWE staff are focused on maintaining operations in the midst of major construction. Engaging with commissioners on the realities of these challenges helps to reinforce our commitment to deliver an upgraded facility that will protect public health and the environment, and benefit the City and the Bayview neighborhood for generations to come.