A Deep Dive into Water Infrastructure Planning for Master-Planned Communities

By March 4, 2024 No Comments
Construction of Master-Planned Commun
When building master-planned communities, it can be prohibitively expensive to install large-scale water infrastructure that will not be used to full capacity for several years.

Developers must consider many factors, including scale, sustainability, and efficiency


Master-planned communities (MPCs) are large, self-contained residential developments that often include amenities such as parks, sports and recreational facilities, shops, schools, and medical complexes. As every community needs access to clean water and sanitation, planning for water and wastewater services is a top priority for these communities in the United States.


When planning water and wastewater infrastructure, it is important to ensure sustainable, efficient, and resilient systems. Explore some of the key things to consider when planning this infrastructure.


Infrastructure that Scales for Future Demand

Building water infrastructure that can accommodate population growth is a key consideration. Developers must conduct a thorough analysis of the community’s water requirements, considering factors such as population growth, land use, industrial activities, and climate conditions. This involves population growth projections to estimate future water and wastewater requirements and building a robust system capable of accommodating the increasing demand.


However, as it can be prohibitively expensive to install large-scale water infrastructure that will not be used to full capacity for several years, it is important to design water and wastewater treatment plants with scalability in mind. Developers can plan for phased expansions to align with the community’s growth without disrupting existing services. One solution is a decentralized system that can be easily expanded as the community grows.


Regulatory Compliance and Environmental Impact

When planning water and wastewater treatment systems for MPCs, developers must comply with federal, state, and local regulations governing water quality and wastewater treatment, as well as the environmental impact of the construction stage and the discharged effluent.


Permits for construction and operation must be obtained before the project starts. Conducting environmental impact assessments can minimize the ecological footprint of water and wastewater infrastructure. Implementing eco-friendly design principles can preserve freshwater resources and protect local ecosystems.


Water Conservation and Efficiency

When planning an MPC, it is important to identify and secure sustainable water sources, including surface water, groundwater, and recycled water. Including features that promote water conservation and reuse within the community, such as rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling, can promote the sustainable use of limited water supplies. Efficient technologies and practices, such as water reuse systems, minimize water losses and optimize consumption while reducing the impact on the environment.


Resilience to Climate Change

It is increasingly important to assess the impacts of climate change on water availability and infrastructure resilience when planning a development. As rainfall patterns become more erratic and extreme weather events more prevalent, infrastructure must withstand high winds, flooding, and other weather events. It’s also important to develop contingency plans for water supply disruptions, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Decentralized water and wastewater treatment infrastructure can build climate resilience by offering adaptable and sustainable solutions to those challenges.


Decentralized treatment systems provide solutions that can be tailored to the specific needs and conditions of a community. They can be less susceptible to the impacts of extreme weather events, such as floods or storms, which can disrupt centralized systems. By distributing water sources and treatment facilities, the risk of widespread failures is minimized. In the event of system failures or disruptions, decentralized systems often recover more quickly. The ability to adapt and recover from disturbances is key to building climate resilience.


Financing Options for Development of Master-Planned Communities

As water infrastructure for master-planned communities involves significant costs, it’s important to develop a sustainable financial model for long-term operation and maintenance. AUC Group’s Lease Plant Program, which offers short-term and long-term lease agreements as well as lease-to-purchase options, has proven to be a successful financing solution for providing water infrastructure to planned communities, in one case saving the developer 75%.


This was achieved with a five-year lease with the phased installation of a package wastewater treatment plant that had a total capacity of 600,000 gallons per day. Each phase was installed and paid for as new housing units went on the market and the community grew. This financing arrangement not only reduced the overall cost but also broke up the capital payments into smaller, more affordable chunks that gave the developer breathing room.


Planners can create water and wastewater infrastructure that not only meets the immediate needs of master-planned communities but also fosters sustainability and builds resilience over the long term. Contact AUC to learn more about our sustainable water and wastewater treatment solutions, and the benefits of our Lease Plant Program.

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