Stormwater challenges confront engineers at primary care centres
05 December 2017
Engineers faced construction challenges in devising stormwater management systems
When patients visit the 14 new primary care centres that have opened or will open within the next year in Ireland, very few will be aware of the construction challenges that faced engineers in devising stormwater management systems.
Fourteen buildings, 14 plans and 14 systems, each with their own set of environmental, construction and logistical challenges. Stormwater management teams needed to develop systems for each property. The solution was not a ‘one size fits all’ approach, but rather a creative, adaptable and careful study that resulted in different plans for each site.
“There were a lot of different things that we had to work around,” said David Newman, a stormwater attenuation specialist for Sustainable Environmental Water and Energy Solutions (SEWES). “All of these projects came with their own set of challenges.”
Several systems required shallow crates, while others required in-situ water treatment tanks. In four of the centres, however, Newman turned to a United States manufacturer of plastic stormwater chambers to solve the water management issues.
The largest primary centres — in Ballymote, Westport, Tuam and Waterford City – required high capacity chambers manufactured by CULTEC to manage the large volumes of water. The chambers used on these locations have a storage capacity of 1.64 m3/m.
“We had to work extensively to find out which system would work best in each area. We had some shallow systems that required smaller chambers and a wide range of ground conditions. It was a complicated process,” Newman said.
Fixing them on the fly
Balfour Beatty and J.J. Rhatigan serve as the contractors for the primary care centres, several of which are completed and operational. Some others are expected to be finished in 2018. Each project had its own stormwater-management issues, and Newman said his team had to be flexible in managing the conditions.
“The initial designs for the systems were planned within a specific footprint,” Newman said. “But because some of the drainage areas were 30 and 40 years old, the systems had to be remodelled and, in many cases, they encountered rock. There were initial surveys done, but their accuracy is never 100 per cent.”
Newman said stormwater teams re-designed the projects based on the ground conditions and drainage levels they discovered once digging into the earth.
“We faced a lot of different soil conditions,” Newman said. “We had to work with the various soils differently to build the system. The thing about CULTEC’s plastic chambers is they cater to different ground conditions and water levels.”
Workers faced other challenges besides the different soils. Since many of the projects were constructed in urban areas, Newman and his teams had to work in a tight footprint. There was little room for unnecessary construction equipment. “We didn’t have a lot of extra space where we could store equipment,” Newman said. “The chambers are stackable, which made it easy to stockpile materials and keep the footprint pretty tight.”
Crews installing stormwater management chambers also faced weather delays. Newman said his teams started installing chambers in December 2016, and encountered weather difficulties for the next few months. Workers needed to find time windows where they could excavate the area and then keep it dry until they got the chambers in place.
CULTEC shipped the chambers from the United States to Ireland and they were then transported to the sites where Newman’s teams installed them. “It was quite the process,” Newman said. “No two projects were the same.”
Managing the runoff
Newman chose CULTEC’s Recharger 902HD high-capacity chambers in the projects. The chambers offer the advantage of minimising project costs by maximising storage volume in a specific footprint. In all, Balfour Beatty and J.J. Rhatigan used 352 chambers at the four primary care centres. “The chamber from CULTEC allowed for a deeper tank and reduced the overall footprint,” Newman said.
The scope of the project varied at each site. In Waterford City, for instance, Newman’s teams constructed two beds. The first consisted of 104 chambers, while the second required 68. The chambers managed 481 m³ and 281 m³ of stormwater runoff respectively. The Ballymote system included 75 chambers in a footprint of 26 meters x 8 meters. The Westport system consisted of 54 chambers in a 9.5 meter x 21 meter land area, and the Tuam system required 51 chambers in a 19 meter x 8 meter footprint.
“The product is recognised as being superior in terms of structural performance,” Newman said. “That was one of the key reasons we used those chambers. You have to be confident knowing that what you put into the ground is not going to collapse.”
The Recharger 902HD stands 1219 mm tall, measures 1.25 meters long and 1981 mm wide. The Recharger 902 HD provides resistance to loads and load factors as defined by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Load Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) Bridge Design Specifications Section 12 and meet the performance requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F2417.
In addition, the chambers are constructed of impact-modified and long-term creep resistant polymers, ensuring that the chambers achieve a minimum of 50-year service life.
The easy storage, assembly and transportation benefits of the CULTEC chambers added to the appeal for Newman. “Their service and technical assistance was also critical for us in installing these chambers,” Newman said.
Years in the making
“The demand for health services continues to grow due to demographic pressures,” Ireland’s then-Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan, Howlin, said in July 2012 about the Government’s intention to build the new healthcare centres. “We must make certain that these services continue to meet the health needs of the population.”
The facilities were constructed as part of a public-private partnership (PPP). The €140 million plan was part of the government’s €2.25 billion Infrastructure Stimulus Programme, and included design, building, financing and maintenance along with facility management services. The European Fund for Strategic Investments provided funding for the project.
In addition to the sites in Ballymote, Westport, Tuam and Waterford City, new centres were planned for Boyle, Claremorris, Ballinrobe, Limerick, Dungarvan, Carrick on Suir, Wexford, Kilcock, Dublin and Coolock.
The facilities will provide comprehensive medical care, including community nursing services, general practitioners, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and home help/support staff. The new clinics also provide dental services, mental health services, early intervention teams and on-call doctor services.
While Howlin announced the project in 2012, Ireland’s political officials first envisioned the project at least four years earlier. A lingering international financial crisis delayed the project. Balfour Beatty and J.J. Rhatigan were selected as the contractors for the project in May 2015, seven years after the project had first been conceived.
Better health throughout Ireland
All of the new primary care centres will be run by the Health Service Executive, which is Ireland’s largest employee with more than 67,000 direct employees. It also has an annual budget of €13 billion, more than any other public sector.
Like most nations, Ireland struggles to contain healthcare costs. Residents in Ireland’s remote communities have had a particularly hard time gaining access to healthcare. A report by Deloitte in 2016 found global issues affecting healthcare also impacted Ireland.
“Lack of access to basic healthcare services and variations in care quality are persistent problems across the globe,” the Deloitte report said. Cost, innovation, operational issues and regulatory compliance are some of the challenges faced by Ireland and many other nations.
There is still much work to be done. But as Ireland improves its healthcare infrastructure, more families will have better access to contemporary healthcare. A creative and flexible approach to water management helped the government construct the buildings. A similar approach will be needed to fix its healthcare system.
“Our client is very happy,” Newman said. “We performed what we said we were going to do. The primary care centres are now brand spanking new, and residents are very pleased with what they have in their communities.”
Gina Carolan is the chief operating officer and Director of Marketing for CULTEC.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2017/12/05/cultec-stormwater-engineers-primary-care-centres/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/storm-drainage.jpg.pnghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/storm-drainage.jpg-300x300.pngCivilconstruction,healthcare,public private partnership,water