Black & Veatch, in association with Hussey, Gay, Bell & DeYoung, Inc. (HGBD), has received the 2009 Engineering Excellence Honor Award for design and construction management of Charleston Water System's Sewer Tunnel Replacement Program.

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of South Carolina presented the award to Black & Veatch, a leading global engineering consulting and construction company, and HGBD, a nationally recognized consulting engineering and architectural design firm.

Under construction for nearly four years, the multi-phased, $123 million tunnel system is the backbone of Charleston's wastewater collection system. It is the largest capital works program undertaken by Charleston Water System and is South Carolina's largest sewer infrastructure project. The project was initiated after Charleston Water System discovered severe deterioration in the existing sewer tunnels. Aware that the existing system could deteriorate further and possibly collapse, Charleston Water System moved into quick action to protect the local community and unique Charleston Harbor.

"Upon discovering the condition of the original tunnels, Charleston Water made this project its highest priority," said Mark Cline, Charleston Water System's Capital Projects Officer. "We couldn't have chosen a more competent project team and contractor to complete the tunnel replacement project in such a timely and professional fashion."Approximately 100,000 local residents and millions of tourists will benefit from the infrastructure improvements each year.

The award-winning program features three tunnels constructed 120 feet below the streets of Charleston: the 12,000-foot-long Ashley River Sewer Tunnel, the 18,000-foot-long Cooper River Sewer Tunnel, and the 19,000-foot-long Daniel Island Extension Tunnel. State-of-the-art design controls, construction techniques and materials were used for the tunnels, which convey wastewater to the Plum Island Wastewater Treatment Plant across the Ashley River.

Successful incorporation of the extensive tunnel system into culturally and historically significant urban areas presented special challenges for design and construction management of the three tunnels. Essential program elements included property acquisition, construction work areas, neighborhood impacts, vibration and settlement monitoring of historic structures, environmental assessments, permitting, cultural/historical approvals, geologic constraints and seismic considerations.

According to David Egger, Global Practice Leader for tunneling for Black & Veatch's water business, the program's success can be attributed to an exceptional relationship among Charleston Water System, Black & Veatch, HGBD and the contractor, Affolder Inc. as they combined their expertise for the community's benefit.

"Risk management and anticipation of concerns before problems could manifest was an ongoing discussion among the owner, engineer and contractor management team from planning through startup operations," said Egger. "The sum of this team produced results that were much greater than any of the parts, which makes this an example of engineering and construction at its best."

ACEC Awards are evaluated on uniqueness and originality; future value to the engineering profession and perception by the public; social, economic and sustainable development considerations; complexity; and successful fulfillment of client/owner's needs, including schedule and budget. As one of six finalists in South Carolina's awards competition, the program is eligible to compete in the national ACEC awards competition.