The RESCU Program

The RESCU Program describes eleven projects which constitute full replacement and rehabilitation of SVCW’s conveyance system. RESCU includes the Gravity Pipeline, Front of Plant, Pump Stations, and Belmont Force Main projects. The Front of Plant includes six of the eleven projects. The Conveyance System Improvements Environmental Impact Report completed and adopted by the SVCW Commission in April 2017 covers work to be done under all the RESCU Program projects.

Teresa Herrera, SVCW Manager

Design Build 101

An update by Teresa Herrera, SVCW Manager
November 1, 2019

I thought I’d put this month’s spotlight on the method by which we’re implementing our RESCU projects.  The procurement method is called “Design Build”.  Design-Build has been around for a long time, particularly in private industry.  In 2016 the California legislature passed a law allowing public agencies to use this form of project delivery.  Prior to this law, most public agencies had to have an engineer or architect design a project to 100% completion, then bid the project on the open market, then hire the lowest cost contractor to build what the engineer or architect had designed.  This method (called Design-Bid-Build) has its place.  But there are a lot of instances whereby a different method of project implementation is better. 

 In comes DesignBuild.  In Design-Build, the owner hires an engineer or architect to prepare preliminary documents that generally define the project. These preliminary documents are publicly advertised to designers and contractors (aka builders) that are involved in the sort of work the project involves. The documents are used by design-builders to develop and submit proposals to the owner. The selection criteria that the owner uses to select a design-builder is customized to each project and reflects the owner’s primary interests and concerns. Cost does play a role in the selection but so do other criteria such as safety, permit compliance, ease of operations and maintaining the facilities, stakeholders interests, etc.  

 Once a design-builder is selected, Stage 1 of the process begins. In Stage 1, the design-builder completes the design to the point whereby a cost to build can be definitely developed (typically 60% to 70% completion).  Stage 1 is done with significant input from the owner and its engineer.  When a cost can be developed to build the project, Stage 2 is kicked off.  In Stage 2, the design is completed to 100% and construction begins.  Stage 2 takes the project all the way to completion and into operation. 

 We’ve used Design-Build for all three of the RESCU projects because 1) all the projects are complex and the nature of the work is highly specialized, 2) we want to ensure we get the best minds around the table to develop the projects, including the valuable input of contractors who actually build the facilities, and 3) we get costs nailed down early in the process so we can plan our financial needs with confidence.   

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