May 1, 2010

FEATURE | Water, Wastewater, Sewer & Watermain

Twin tunnel work for Seymour Capilano Filtration Project resumes

Work on the twin tunnels component of the Seymour Capilano Filtration Project is back on track, after a new contract was awarded for construction last year.

“They started boring again on the treated water tunnel in July and the raw water tunnel in August, and work is proceeding at a very good rate,” said Bill Morrell, media relations and corporate communications manager with Metro Vancouver.

“They are averaging about ten meters a day and are at the 5.5 kilometre mark in each tunnel, which means there is about two kilometres left to go.”

In April 2009, Metro Vancouver finalized negotiations and awarded a new contract for completion of the twin tunnels to the Seymour-Cap Partnership, which is made up of Frontier-Kemper, J.F.Shea and Aecon.

The consortium bid $181 million to complete the tunnels using the original engineering design and the two tunnel boring machines already in place.

“The horizontal portion of the tunnels will be completed in the fall of this year and then the raised portion of the tunnel will start,” said Morrel.

“The tunnel boring machines will be turned up and they will go to the surface.”

The underground twin tunnels are being constructed to allow the treatment of water from the Seymour and Capilano reservoirs at one plant.

The tunnels, which are 3.8 metres in diameter and 7.1 kilometres long, are being constructed 160 – 640 metres below ground level.

Water from the Capilano is pumped uphill to the filtration plant, where it is treated and disinfected.

It is then returned downhill to the Capilano through a parallel tunnel, for distribution to residents throughout Metro Vancouver.

One of the most interesting features of the tunnel project is a turbo generator in the return tunnel.

A quarterly report submitted to the Water Committee in March 2010 said the energy recovery turbine is the largest equipment item remaining to be procured on the project.

Proposals for supply and delivery of this equipment were expected to be received in March.

Northwest Pipe in California is manufacturing welded steel liner pipe for the tunnels, including lining and coating work.

“Manufacturing, including lining and coating work, is approximately 87 per cent complete,” said the report’s author Mark Ferguson, division manager of the water and waste water treatment.

“Delivery of the liner pipe to Metro Vancouver’s temporary storage site adjacent to the Annacis Island Wastewater Treatment Plant continues with 71 per cent of pipe received.”

According to Morrel, the nature of the rock in portions at each end of the tunnel requires this steel lining to be installed

Ferguson said the project was 59 per cent complete at the end of December.

When finished in mid-2013, these tunnels will transfer 1,100 million litres of water each day.

The construction of the twin tunnels was initially estimated to cost about $100 million, but overall costs for the tunnels are now projected to reach about $400 million.

Bilfinger-Berger Canada (BBC) Inc. was hired in 2004 by Metro Vancouver to construct the twin tunnels with a combined length of 14.2 kilometres.

Work on the project was suspended by BBC in January 2008 due to a conflict about the safety of underground workers.

As a result of this action, Metro Vancouver terminated BBC’s right to perform further work on the project in May 2008.

BBC filed a suit in B.C. Supreme Court against Metro Vancouver in June 2008, which alleges Metro Vancouver improperly cancelled the contract and failed to develop a viable and safe plan for completion of the project.

According to Metro Vancouver, BBC refused to proceed with work, even though they were provided with a comprehensive and viable plan for completion.

BBC said it believes the budget increase from Metro Vancouver represents an acknowledgement that tunneling conditions were more adverse than those contained in the initial geotechnical baseline report.

Metro said the cost increase was the result of a significant change in the market over the six years since the original contract was awarded.

This increase is based on a number of factors, such as the cost of materials.

Morrel said that Metro Vancouver expects to recover these additional costs from BBC through litigation.

The court date is set for 2012.

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