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A Popular Choice: Design-Build Project Delivery Gains Momentum

Gus Hrncir, Brown and Caldwell | August 23, 2016

The federal government estimates that more than $384 billion in capital investment is needed by 2030 to maintain the nation’s drinking water infrastructure. Publicly owned wastewater utilities need about $270 billion during the same period.

Experts in this cash-strapped industry say that projects often take too long to complete and regularly suffer from cost overruns. Funding gaps, municipal politics, and environmental compliance are often the source of delays and difficulties. But some of the most entrenched inefficiencies arise in the infrastructure development business itself.

Navigating the design-bid-build method of project delivery can be a source of cost challenges and schedule problems for water and wastewater utilities. Just ask Steve Gates, senior vice president at Brown and Caldwell.

"With the design-bid-build process, there’s a higher potential for problems between the multiple contracting parties,” Gates said. "Accountability for project performance is diffused among multiple parties.” The result, he said, can be "disputes, delays and cost increases.”

"But a growing number of water and wastewater utilities are trying another way,” Gates said, "contracting out key infrastructure projects to design-build firms, who can handle the effort from start to finish, instead of the once-traditional model of hiring a designer and taking the lowest-bidding contractor.”

Read the full story about the trend of design-build contracting in the water and wastewater industry and the benefits utilities are seeing by deploying this strategy.