Modernizing the Ludington Water Plant

For reasons of both compliance and practicality, the City of Ludington needed to update its Water Treatment Plant. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had ordered the city to ramp up the capacity of its plant—an upgrade that demanded new filters, new pumps, new switchgear, and new controls to keep everything up and running. In total, the upgrades enabled the Ludington Water Treatment Plant to double its daily water treatment capacity from four million gallons to eight million gallons. The plant also needed a modernization to keep up with the times. Windemuller was tapped by the project’s general contractor, Davis Construction, to provide both electrical and automation services for the project.

The Challenge

The number one challenge on this job was updating the electrical systems and controls for the treatment plant while keeping the plant up and running. The residents of the City of Ludington rely on the water treatment plant for clean drinking water. In other words, shutting down the plant for the full duration of the project was not an option.

The project was constructed with all rigid galvanized conduit and pvc-coated rigid conduit. A tremendous amount of planning and intricate layout was required to coordinate with the mechanical piping systems, keep the water system running and reliable, and stay on schedule.

The project team also automated portions of the water treatment system. The SCADA system was updated and the new equipment to expand the plant was integrated, new instruments were installed, and the city now benefits from improved data and monitoring of their water supply.

Instead, we had to be strategic about replacing core components and installing new systems. In certain cases, we could install components during partial shutdowns. However, with so much new electrical equipment and so many automation control systems to implement, we also had to find a way to execute a lengthier shutdown.

Our install list included:

  • 1,250kW generator
  • New 1200A switchgear
  • Replacements for two of the plant’s four 200hp high-speed pumps
  • Custom built controls and UL Listed panels
  • Brand new motor control center
  • Two sand filters
  • Two sedimentation basins
  • Two flocculation basins

The Solution

On Halloween, we had our opportunity: a day to schedule a complete shutdown of the Ludington Water Treatment Plant. The shutdown would give us time to make the crucial installations and changeovers we hadn’t been able to execute during partial shutdowns. However, we were also on a deadline: the plant could only be off for 12 hours, which meant we had to carefully devise a plan and coordinate with the city, the general contractor and Consumers Energy to plot out the schedule. Essentially, Consumers Energy would shut off power to the plant in the morning, Windemuller would back up essential components with the backup generator system, and we’d race the clock to finish a new main transformer feed and installation by the end of the day.

So, we planned. We made sure we had the right people, parts, and plans in place. We handpicked a team that included the exact number of people we needed and covered the specialized skills—such as medium voltage terminations—that the project would require. The moment the power to the plant went off, we got to work. Thanks to these careful preparations, we were able to fit in every installation we needed to that day. It was a resounding success that paved the way for the rest of the project and resulted in, eventually, a much-improved water treatment plant for the City of Ludington.

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