Water Treatment Costs for Master-Planned Communities

By March 14, 2024 No Comments
Tree-Lined Streets in Suburb With Small Lakes
The cost of installing a network of pipes connecting a planned community to a centrally located water treatment plant can be prohibitive. AUC’s decentralized water and wastewater treatment systems offer a flexible, affordable solution.

Decentralized treatment systems with flexible financing make water infrastructure more affordable

Water infrastructure is a key consideration when designing master-planned communities. To ensure sustainable and efficient water management throughout the development, this must be given careful consideration during the planning and preparatory phases, before the physical development of the community begins.


During planning, developers estimate water demand for different land uses, considering residential, recreational, commercial, and industrial water uses, so that treatment infrastructure can be sized appropriately. It is important to assess available water sources (groundwater, surface water, or municipal supply) to determine their feasibility and sustainability.


One of the challenges that developers of these communities face when providing water treatment services is how to do it affordably while still accommodating future growth. AUC’s decentralized water and wastewater treatment systems offer a flexible, affordable solution.


Affordability of Infrastructure

Installing a network of pipes connecting the community to a centrally located water treatment plant can be cost-prohibitive, accounting for as much as 70% of capital expenses in a new development. There are also energy costs for pumping treated water to the community from the centralized plant and pumping wastewater back.


These pipelines and infrastructure must be maintained, which becomes more costly as they age. Decentralized water treatment systems offer a flexible, cost-effective alternative for master-planned communities. They can be installed close to the development, significantly cutting the costs of pumping water and wastewater through extensive pipelines.


AUC’s decentralized wastewater treatment plants are low-odor and low-noise and pose no health risks. They can be installed at the point of use, with a buffer zone of 150 feet required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Since the travel time from homes to the wastewater treatment plant is so short, sewage does not have time to decompose, essentially eliminating odors.


Scaling as the Community Grows

Another key benefit of AUC’s decentralized systems is their scalability. Developers can start with a small wastewater treatment system, increasing capacity as the development expands. AUC can install a system based on 250, 800, or 1,600 connections in Phase 1, expanding as Phase 2 of the development is ready.


AUC’s wastewater treatment plants range in size from 100,000 gallons per day โ”€ they can start as low as 50,000 GPD in Phase 1 โ”€ up to 1,500,000 gallons per day. Estimating an average flow rate of 300 gallons per day per home, this equates to a minimum of 300 homes and up to a maximum of 5,000. A wastewater treatment system for Phase 1 of master-planned communities typically starts with a capacity of 50,000 to 150,000 GPD, with the flexibility to expand.


AUC’s modular plant design offers the flexibility of phased installation. As a community grows, modules can be added to increase capacity, allowing the developer to pay for the infrastructure that is needed for each phase rather than paying for the full capacity upfront.


Resilience in Water Management

Decentralized treatment systems help build resilience in water management. They can be designed to use multiple water sources, including local groundwater, rainwater, and recycled wastewater to use as irrigation in landscaping and recreational spaces, for example. This flexibility enhances resilience by diversifying the water supply and reducing dependence on a single source.


As decentralized systems typically involve smaller, dispersed treatment units, if one unit fails, others can still provide treatment, ensuring the reliability of the water supply system. Centralized water treatment plants are vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Decentralized systems spread the risk because damage to one unit does not wipe out the entire infrastructure. This ensures a more resilient response to natural disasters. In the event of contamination or water quality issues, decentralized systems allow for a targeted response. Instead of affecting an entire system, local units can address contamination issues swiftly, minimizing the impact.


Financing Options for Master-Planned Communities

Developers of master-planned communities must draw up a financial plan for the construction, operation, and maintenance of water treatment facilities. There are several mechanisms to finance water infrastructure, some of which can result in considerable cost savings for the developer. AUC Group’s Lease Plant Program offers flexible, short- and long-term lease plans, including lease-to-purchase options, based on project timelines.


AUC’s modular approach allows developers to install the smallest plant necessary to meet initial needs and expand as the community grows. This frees up capital to be invested in amenities for the community instead of treatment plants. For example, a developer of a master-planned community in Harris County, Texas, saved 75% on a 600,000 GPD wastewater treatment facility by choosing an AUC lease with a four-phase installation. It started at 75,000 GPD in Phase 1, increasing to 150,000 GPD in Phase 2, 300,000 GPD in Phase 3, and finally 600,000 GPD in Phase 4.


Careful planning of water and wastewater treatment for master-planned communities can establish a robust foundation for sustainable management, ensuring the availability of clean water for residents and minimizing environmental impact, without impeding cash flow.


Contact AUC to learn more about our decentralized water and wastewater treatment solutions, and the flexible payment terms our Lease Plant Program offers.

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