News & Events

Union Street Pumping Station in Portsmouth, RI Receives ACEC-RI Gold Star Award

Tighe & Bond Completes Crucial Connection to Water Supply for Town of Portsmouth

Tighe & Bond and the Portsmouth Water and Fire District (the District) received the 3rd Place Gold Star Award for Projects Under $10M for the 2021 ACEC-RI Engineering Excellence Awards. The project team was recognized at the recent ACEC-RI Annual Meeting for their outstanding professional design excellence while working alongside the District to fortify the Town of Portsmouth’s connection to their water supply.

In 2017, the District sought the help of engineers at Tighe & Bond with the aging Union Street Pumping Station. The pumping station draws water for the town from the City of Newport’s Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The Union Street Pumping Station is the main source of water for the water system, meaning that if the pumping station was to ever fail, the District would be cut off from their water supply. The deteriorating infrastructure increased difficulty with maintenance, and the inability to meet future consumer demands spurred action from district officials.

Tighe & Bond engineers determined the best course of action was to decommission the original pumping station and build a new pumping station on an adjacent parcel of land. The adjacent parcel allowed for the design of the new pumping station to utilize the existing pipe infrastructure from the old pumping station, minimizing pipe improvements and cutting costs on construction.

The City of Newport’s Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant had been recently updated so our team incorporated these improvements into the new Union Street Pumping Station design to be sure it would be able to handle the water supply. Not only did this design prevent operational liabilities and any connectivity issues with the City of Newport, using a higher suction side water pressure allows for a sustainable outcome, using less energy when pumping water to the District’s customers. The unique inner workings of the new Union Street Pumping Station also utilized vertically mounted centrifugal can pumps. The size of these pumps allowed the most flexibility, fitting more pumps within a smaller building footprint while increasing capacity to 3.5 million gallons per day.

While the function of the pumping station remained at the forefront of the project, our engineers did not forget the effect this project had on the coastal community. Working with the District and the town Planning Board, our team took inspiration from the aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhood, to design a unique pumping station that emulates a cross between a bright red barn and a farmhouse.

The new Union Street Pumping Station came online in September 2020 and Tighe & Bond worked closely with the District and the City of Newport to ensure a decommissioning of the old station and the start-up of the new station without any shutdowns or interference to the public’s water supply. The newly built pumping station guarantees the Portsmouth Water and Fire District will have a reliable connection to their water supply and the tools to efficiently run for decades to come.