City of Arlington's Largest Water Project to Utilize Diversity and Inclusion Goals
By Alana Earle, Arlington Water Utilities
Posted on September 28, 2021, September 28, 2021

Pierce-Burch Water Treatment Plant

An upcoming $112 million upgrade for the City of Arlington’s Pierce-Burch Water Treatment Plant will mark two major milestones for Arlington.

First, it is the largest plant rehabilitation project in the history of the Arlington Water Utilities treatment division. Second, it is the first major capital improvement project to be put out for bid under Arlington’s recently adopted Minority/Woman Business Enterprise policy. Both achievements have been years in the making, according to city officials.

Read more about the Pierce-Burch Water Treatment Plant project inclusion goals in the latest edition of the MWBE Quarterly Newsletter. This digital newsletter also includes a profile on Criado and Associates, a Hispanic woman-owned firm that has participated in several City projects, a Six-Month Project Forecast, community outreach and other updates from the Office of Business Diversity.

The multi-year Pierce-Burch project will be constructed in several phases at the 1901 Lakewood Drive facility on Arlington’s west side near Lake Arlington. Construction will start in November 2021 and continue for four years. It will include the replacement of chemical feed facilities used during the water treatment process, new concrete structures called clearwells where treated water is stored, and high service pumps used to send water to homes and businesses. Improvements to the plant's electrical system are also part of the project.

On March 2, 2021, the City of Arlington increased its aspirational goal for the participation of minority and women-owned businesses in City contracts from 25% to 30%. Then, March 30, City Council adopted a Minority Woman Business Enterprise (MWBE) Program and established an Office of Business Diversity as part of the City’s efforts to increase participation with minority and woman-owned companies as suppliers, prime contractors and subcontractors. Prime contractors take on large projects as the lead contractor and hire smaller firms, or subcontractors, to do parts of the work.

Will Velasco, City of Arlington Procurement Manager, says the Office of Business Diversity will work with City departments to determine project-specific goals for MWBE contracting, based on the nature of a project and MWBE workforce available. Then, each project percentage of MWBE participation adds into the 30% overall goal. However, MWBE participation can always exceed this amount if the project and manpower permits, Velasco said. A project-specific goal of 19.6% MWBE participation for the Pierce-Burch contract was set based on workforce availability. That availability is determined by a procurement study initiated by the City.

The size of the project is substantial. Pierce-Burch can produce up to 75 million gallons of treated water daily. It was built in 1972 and has not undergone a major update. The infrastructure improvements at Pierce-Burch follow up on several recommendations made in a 2014 assessment called the Water Treatment Rehabilitation, Improvements and Optimization Master Plan. These improvements will improve the plant’s reliability, redundancy, and sustainability, as well as streamline the water production operations says Brad Franklin, Arlington Water Utilities Assistant Director of Engineering Support Services.

Franklin says the project’s deadline to submit a bid was extended to allow potential bidders enough time to research MWBE businesses that could perform work on the project. City staff also worked with the Office of Business Diversity to help the construction company with the best bid find sub-contractors with MWBE ownership.

“MWBE business are often much smaller and don’t have the ability to handle multi-million-dollar projects like those from a prime (contract) level,” says Velasco. “Our newly established MWBE program will help build capacity for these firms, allowing them to bid from a prime level hopefully down the road.”

The original amount of MWBE subcontractors for the Pierce-Burch project were primarily centered around the women-owned part of MWBE. After reviewing the MWBE contracts, it was apparent that there needed to be a portion of the project contracted to minority-owned businesses, as well, Velasco said. In August, the Arlington City Council approved Arlington Water Utilities construction contract for the project with Archer Western Construction, LLC.

Velasco said the level of MWBE involvement in the Pierce-Burch contract is a big win for the City’s efforts to reduce race- and gender-based barriers that limit MWBE utilization on procurement opportunities. Beyond the immediate benefits, businesses involved will gain new connections that will build their reputation for future projects in Arlington and other cities.

For more information on the MWBE guidelines and goals please contact,

Erica Thompson, MWBE Manager
[email protected]

Will Velasco, Procurement Manager
[email protected]

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