West Anthem Lift Station: An Achen-Gardner Project Feature

Jessica Claas | Thursday June 3, 2021

It’s been a little while since we’ve checked in with our partner company, Achen-Gardner Construction (AGC). Their crews have been busy installing integral infrastructure for the Phoenix and Tucson metros, and just recently wrapped up a lift station project for the City of Phoenix. Let’s find out more about the West Anthem Lift Station, and why ESS is giving AGC an “atta boy” fist bump.

The City of Phoenix chose to invest in a new lift station because previously, residents of the Phoenix suburb, West Anthem, were being serviced through infrastructure owned by a company called EPCOR. By building their own lift station, the City of Phoenix wouldn’t have to pay EPCOR to service their residents and they could maintain the facility themselves. But let’s back up. What is a lift station? And why is it so important?

Lift stations are an integral part of an effective sewage collection system. Raw sewage needs to make a journey from your home to a wastewater treatment plant. And as our utility crews can tell you – underground, downward sloped pipelines take advantage of gravity to literally keep things moving. But in some situations, it’s necessary for wastewater to enter the pipe system from a lower elevation. It would defy the laws of gravity and physics for the raw sewage to continue its journey towards a wastewater treatment plant by flowing upwards. This is where the lift station comes in. A lift station contains a storage container called a wet well. Once the sewage in the wet well reaches its high level mark, a lift station pump will “lift” the sewage upwards using a pressurized force main – a system of pumps that push the wastewater to a higher elevation so it can continue its journey towards treatment.

So, now that we know the logistics of a lift station, we can understand the importance of connecting the lower elevation residents with the higher elevation treatment plant. AGC, being awarded the contract for the West Anthem lift station project, was the missing link to making this connection. But the City had a deadline, and reaching substantially complete status on time meant overcoming challenges and having the determination to not let those challenges slow them down.

AGC has constructed several lift stations in the past, but this particular lift station project was a high priority. It was important that this project was successful, not only to meet the City’s deadline, but for AGC to maintain their position in the market of lift and pump stations, wet wells and plants. But as projects tend to go, challenges often arise in the field. Encountering unfavorable soil conditions, hydraulic rotating drum cutters were placed on excavators to chew up the extremely hard rock that presented below the surface. This should have set them months behind schedule, but by adjusting means and methods in the field, and the sheer determination of the crew, they were able to complete the project on time and still turn a profit.

Project Superintendent, Mike Chaudoin, wanted to thank all of the individuals and crews involved in the project. “It was challenging and fast paced throughout. Their flexibility, open dialogue for ideas and best methods, combined with their attitudes toward their crafts is what made this project successful.”

The West Anthem lift station houses one 5-foot diameter manhole, a 31-foot-deep and 7-foot- diameter polymer concrete wet well, and utilizes two 35-HP submersible pumps. The pumps send the sewage through above ground mechanical piping where it is metered and pumped into the force main, sending it uphill to the gravity flow sewer system. It took 4,600 linear feet of double barrel 18-inch welded HDPE force main, 4,600 linear feet of single barrel 8-inch welded HDPE force main, 3,400 linear feet of 4-inch ductile iron water line, and 4,900 square yards of pavement replacement to complete the project. Also part of AGC’s scope was to erect a masonry wall around the lift station site to provide added security.

Oftentimes, it’s not the quantities that make a project stand out. It’s the unique circumstances encountered along the way. AGC had to remove and relocate several native trees that are protected by the state’s Native Plant Law. These Palo Verdes trees had to be dug around the root ball, boxed and watered for several weeks and eventually pulled out of the way for transplanting. Fun fact – the Palo Verdes is the Arizona State Tree.

The lift station was also positioned next to a roadway that happened to be the only access point to a federal prison. Two-way traffic flow had to be maintained during non-working hours to accommodate the prison. This was a challenge because the northbound lane could not be accessible to traffic since a 14-foot-wide trenchline, that would eventually house the 3 HDPE force mains, was being dug along the edge of it. To maintain the traffic flow, AGC constructed a temporary traffic lane off the southbound shoulder, and worked very closely with the Maricopa County Department of Transportation through the duration of the project to maintain 24-hour access.

The year-long project just wrapped up last month. You can hear the pride in AGC Project Manager, Sam Garber’s voice when he talks about the West Anthem project. “The project had numerous challenges along the way, but the professionalism and tenacity with which Project Superintendent Mike Chaudoin and his crews handled them in stride speaks volumes to the kind of people we work with on a daily basis at Achen-Gardner. It was a privilege to be a part of the team that built the West Anthem Lift Station #76 Force Main and Water Main project.”

We mentioned AGC has been busy, and all signs point to them not slowing down. As the West Anthem project was nearing completion, Achen-Gardner hired Jason Robinson as their Director of Water/Wastewater Plants. They also won a couple of new projects that will bolster their foothold in the highly competitive water and wastewater plant/facility marketplace. In September, they will assist in the construction of a 300,000 gallon reservoir and 4 booster pump stations as part of the Town of Carefree’s Water Consolidation Project. Also, in October they will start construction on the City of Chandler’s Arrowhead Water Production Facility Rehabilitation and Pecos Surface Water Treatment Plant Surge System project.

Kudos to the West Anthem crews whose determination, grit and acumen made this project successful, propelled it across the finish line, and further strengthened Achen-Gardner’s market position.