Skip to main content

Managing the Unknown: Water & Wastewater Construction Projects

How do you successfully plan and manage a construction project that you can’t see?  

In almost any scenario, the thought of being unable to see your construction project come together would be baffling; however, in many water and wastewater projects, that can be the situation. With most of the work being done underground, it’s hard to know exactly what project owners (typically cities) and their general contractors are getting into, which can make planning and executing a project manager’s nightmare. While you can’t account for all the unknowns that could possibly occur on any project, it is possible to reduce your risks with the right tools in place.  

The complexities of water and wastewater projects require special skills to manage. Whether it’s a greenfield project where new lines must be dug or a rehabilitation project where you must choose to pipeburst, bore new lines or do dozens of point repairs, each method must be managed in a unique way. While some cities may have in-house teams or departments who can execute these projects, often a specialty contractor must be involved. With all the different teams and stakeholders involved, safety and environmental regulations, multiple sources of funding, plus the inability to see your project, it’s a recipe for disaster.  

Having the right project management information system (PMIS) in place provides better project insights around scope, budget and timeline, but it can also provide your organization with the agility and flexibility that is required to manage unforeseen circumstances.  

Specifically, utilizing a comprehensive PMIS on your water and wastewater projects will aid with: 

  • Source of FundsManaging the release and appropriation of multiple grants and funds 
  • Program and Portfolio ManagementEnabling the configuration of program/portfolio management capabilities per a project’s unique needs 
  • Cost ManagementProviding proper stewardship of taxpayer and bondholder dollars to control project costs 
  • Reporting & AnalyticsOffering data accessibility to all project stakeholders (city planners, engineers, city inspectors, general contractors and subcontractors) to create the most comprehensive, transparent dashboards and reports 

With a PMIS that can change as your project demands, you can reduce your risks of overruns and failing systems while better managing your public funds, timeline and scope.  

About the Author

Sara Giddens is an Industry Director at Kahua specializing in government and commercial construction. She has over 10 years of experience around industry engagement, market research & strategy, and construction content creation.

Profile Photo of Sara Giddens