Southeast Treatment Plant Projects Earn Recognition for Sustainability and Collaboration

Two of the SFPUC’s Southeast Treatment Plant projects were recently recognized for their focus on sustainability, collaboration, and overcoming unforeseen challenges while still managing to be completed on time and within the prescribed budget. 

Project Manager Murat Bozkurt and his team have been working to bring much of the Southeast Treatment Plant into the 21st century with projects that will upgrade the outdated parts of the facility and ensure a more reliable and efficient wastewater treatment process. The Southeast Treatment Plant is the City’s largest wastewater treatment plant and was originally brought online in 1952 with many of the Southeast Treatment Plant’s vital facilities still running on technology from the 1940s.

Waste Flare, existing digesters.

The 2019 Collaborative Partnering Awards Program recently recognized the Southeast Treatment Plant’s “Existing Digester Gas Handling Improvements Project” with the silver award for Category 2 which consists of project budgets from $10 million to $30 million. The “Cryogenic Oxygen Plant Demolition and Liquid Oxygen System Upgrades Project” earned the bronze award for Category 1 which consists of project budgets under the $10 million mark. The awards program recognizes 14 City of San Francisco building and infrastructure projects that best exemplify the principles and success of structured collaborative partnering.

The “Existing Digester Gas Handling Improvements Project” was also recognized by the 2019 Water & Wastes Digest as a Top Project.

Liquid Oxygen Tank LOX. The subcontractor (SHEEDY) uploading the tanks and installing them onto SEP 277 pad. Liquid Oxygen helps biological wastewater treatment plants by increasing their capacity and by helping to settle upset conditions quickly. Upset conditions include times of high Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD); high sludge volume index, also known as bulking; and abnormal production of sulphurous odours. All of these conditions are the results of low dissolved Oxygen in the sludge, and can be rapidly remedied by injecting Oxygen.

“Having a great team is the key to a successful project,” said Bozkurt. “I am grateful that each of my team members delivered excellent work. We definitely had speed bumps but team members’ great attitude and willingness to work together made these projects successful.”

As the name suggests, the “Existing Digester Gas Handling Improvements Project” includes upgrades to the Southeast Treatment Plant’s existing digesters. The existing digesters and associated facilities must continue to handle all the solids treatment at the Southeast Treatment Plant until all the new facilities are completed. 

Additionally, the “Cryogenic Oxygen Plant Demolition and Liquid Oxygen System Upgrades” project included important upgrades to the existing liquid oxygen (LOX) facility at the Southeast Treatment Plant that had been in service for nearly 40 years and had been operating beyond its useful life. The facility, though outdated, served as a vital part of the wastewater treatment process by providing pure oxygen used to excite microorganisms in the wastewater.

Murat Bozkurt.

Both projects were selected because they demonstrated innovation and collaboration between the SFPUC and its partners. Both projects were implemented using the Sewer System Improvement Program’s Levels of Service that will help provide a more compliant and resilient wastewater treatment system for the City of San Francisco.

Bozkurt said that a partnering meeting helped align everyone to have the same vision and achieve the same goal: building a quality product for the end user.  A camaraderie started early on and carried through to the end of the project where a great level of trust and communication was established which made it possible to overcome every challenge the project team ran into.

“At the beginning of the project there was a great level of professionalism and respect amongst everyone,” said Bozkurt. “But it wasn’t until the first partnering meeting which helped unify everyone to really engage with one another to understand everyone’s roles and responsibilities, the communication channels and established resolution ladder.”