The water boys: Coffey’s containerised water treatment project

by | Sep 6, 2022

Coffey Project Engineer Kieran O Haire explains how the company’s containerised water treatment project can be deployed to urgent needs areas in Ireland and abroad. Most recently they have been put to use to provide clean drinking water to conflict-impacted areas in Ukraine

Coffey is a multi-disciplinary construction company founded in 1974 and based in Athenry, Co. Galway, with regional offices in Kildare and Cork. Coffey has undertaken projects in a number of different sectors including Design, Build and Operation of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants; Road, Bridge and Rail Construction; Utilities, Renewable Energy and Power as well as Commercial and Industrial Building.

The company’s containerised project has been ongoing since 2018 to design, manufacture, install and commission containerised water treatment units across Ireland on behalf of Irish Water to provide filtration and UV disinfection to drinking water supplies.

The chosen sites are generally water sources that have been added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Remedial Action List (RAL) where water quality is below drinking water standards and corrective action is required to ensure the safety and security of the supply to consumers.

Coffey has produced four standardised designs to provide a flexible solution to accommodate a wide range of different site layouts and existing processes and an optimised package based on the typical water quality data and flow rates.

The designs use both 20ft and 40ft containers to house either pressure filtration systems, UV disinfection systems, or both along with ancillary equipment to provide treatment to flows ranging from 40 to 120 cubic metres per hour.

Parallel processes lay the track to success

Working in parallel, the fabrication of the containerised units in Coffey’s HeadOffice Athenry site enables works in the form of precast tanks and concrete slabs.

Meanwhile ESB upgrades and integration to existing pipework and control panels are carried out on the selected site. This parallel approach to delivering the offsite and onsite work results in a dramatically reduced project programme.

Typical site delivery can be within six months from the initial concept stage and site assessment to handover. This has been a key aspect in the success of the containerised programme as it has allowed Coffey to deliver key infrastructure upgrades in existing plants with a greatly reduced delivery programme timeline in comparison with traditional building processes.

The power of BIM

At the forefront of this project has been the utilisation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) software to optimise the containerised units standardised designs and provide detailed construction and fabrication drawings to the construction teams involved.

The use of standard 20ft and 40ft containers has provided a ready use shell for the treatment plants, which undergo an internal transformation. Each container is fitted with an insulated timber stud wall and partition walls to separate the plant and panel room.

Following the internal fitout of the container the mechanical and electrical crews will install the pumps, filters, UV reactors, Motor Control Centre Panels and water quality instrumentation.

Once the containerised unit is construction complete it undergoes a complete Factory Acceptance Testing procedure to ensure that the container will operate as intended once delivered and connected on site.

Innovation through design

The containerised project had to overcome many design challenges from both a process and constructability perspective to incorporate all of the equipment required to provide a fully self-sufficient treatment plant within the envelope of a shipping container.

With the use of BIM software and the expertise of the design and construction teams available to Coffey, the optimisation of equipment selection and positioning was possible as well as pipework configurations designed to aid the hydraulic profile of the plant and equipment operation.

The installation of each of the containerised units presents its own challenge with the integration of the unit into an existing process. However, with the experience of the project teams involved and the assistance of specialised ICA Subcontractors it has been possible to achieve the desired operational results in a large variety of plant configurations.

Clean water providing a clear vision for the future

The containerised installations that have been completed to date have provided access to safe drinking water and RAL removal for a number of areas across Ireland as well as providing safeguards in a number of existing plants to prevent and help plants susceptible to variable water quality, which historically have had to be placed on boil-water notices at short notice.

More recently the containerised project has been a part of humanitarian aid initiatives with the donation of two combined filtration and UV disinfection units to Ukraine in the midst of the ongoing conflict to provide access to clean and safe drinking water where critical municipal infrastructure has been destroyed.

Smooth waters

Project: Containerised Emergency Treatment Works
Location: Athenry, Co. Galway
Sector: Water
Main Contractor: Coffey
Sub-Contractors: UMAC (ICA Works)
Project Manager: Anne Marie Quirke
Engineer: Kieran O Haire
Start Date: September 2017
Completion Date: Ongoing
BIM stats: All of the standardised containerised systems have been designed using BIM software
Unique Methods of Construction: Offsite fabrication of containerised units with civil enabling works carried out in parallel to condense delivery programme

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