Reviewed Date: 05/12/2023
A critical role for the project owner is monitoring the project. This generally is done in conjunction with the utility staff. The owners of the project, the city or utility board, along with their staff, managers, engineers and inspectors, must evaluate the project and their own performances relative to the project.
Inspection of the work is critical to a successful project. The inspector must be qualified. He or she should clearly understand the design, should know the latest construction methods and must clearly know the owner’s expectations. Owners must clearly state those expectation. It is suggested that expectations should be similar to the following statement, “Construction shall be consistent with design, shall be completed with quality materials consistent with the design, shall be completed with construction methods of the highest quality in a way that preserves worker and public safety.” The inspector may be an employee of the same entity overseeing project management (see the preceeding section), the design engineer, or the owner. In some cases, there may be more than one inspector assigned to a project (not including regulatory agency inspectors) representing the owner, engineer, and/or project manager. In such cases the authority and coordination of these inspectors must be clearly defined.
MTAS frequently hears feedback from collection system operators who state that "the newest sewer lines and manholes have more I/I than the old ones." Considering that the construction materials available today are far superior to those in the past, one can only conclude the workmanship is far inferior, and that inspection was lacking.
The design itself should meet design criteria set by the state. That design and the equipment choices should meet the approval of operations and management personnel. These people, along with the engineer, should be able to give an assurance that the design will produce a water quality that meets, at a minimum, the regulatory standards. There should be a level of comfort among the financial staff that the project and subsequent operational expenses are affordable. As construction begins, remind all personnel — from the professionals to the least experienced laborer — that a high-quality project is expected. Specified materials must be installed according to design, using construction methods that result in a long-lasting project and are on budget and on time. The contractor and inspector both should document daily activities and progress on the construction site. The purpose and use of documentation must be clearly understood by both parties and coordinated by the project manager. Typically, the contractor and inspector reconcile their respective documentation at the end of each workday. This is critical since payment requests will be made based on the construction progress that is verified/reconciled based on daily inspection reports. The owner should make payments to the contractor quickly. Specific requirements for submittal of pay requests (e.g., paper versus electronic; submitted by the first Monday of each month) should be clearly communicated at the onset of the project. If there are disputes regarding payment requests, reconcile them quickly, preferably using a previously agreed upon method.
In a four-part article in Water Environment Federation's publication, Operators Forum entitled “The Operator’s Key to Successful Plant Upgrades,” the authors recommended that a treatment plant staff person called a coordinator is key to improving relations with contractors, subcontractors, engineers, and operators of the facility. Where a third-party project manager is not affordable, this may be an alternative. Though not in control of the project, a coordinator could serve many functions of a project manager by keeping the parties working as partners and serving as the eyes and ears of the owners.