BIM for creation and management of water treatment plants

BIM for creation and management of water treatment plants

For the past two decades the AEC professionals have relied on BIM to design, construct and manage buildings. The model based approach has now also started to find its application in large scale horizontal projects. The data rich 3D models are the focal points around which design collaboration, document management, 3D visualization, clash detection can take place throughout the lifecycle of the infrastructure. Its appeal is undeniable for large scale projects.

When it comes to the water treatment plants specifically there are a lot of technical complexities involved both in its management as well as construction. There are also issues of increased population and urbanizations coupled with amplified regulatory pressure due to which plant designers are under constant pressure to create safer and better facilities on time and budget.

Stages of Water Treatment:

Water treatment is a stage by stage process wherein at each step the water is further treated. In that way the water treatment is like a living ecosystem. It needs to be carefully designed. The four stages are:

  1. Primary Treatment wherein there is a removal of girt and sedimentation as well as screening takes place
  2. The second stage is that of a Bioreactor
  3. Tertiary Treatment – Removal of nitrogen
  4. pH control

These steps are basic classifications and not definite. There various factors to be kept in mind during construction of water treatment plants which influence the steps. They are as below:

       1. Type of the water source

       2. Desired finished water quality

       3. Skill of facility operators,

       4. The relative size of available funds.

At each of these stages there are precise calculations and dimensions involved. Any error in designing could leave the water contaminated as well as have long term adverse consequences on the people drinking it.

Considerations in designing and building of water treatment plants:

There are some intricate design elements which need to be considered whenever a water treatment plant is being designed. The raw sewage pumps for instance should be designed in a way that the piping is minimum and that it would offer passage for solid substances easily. Similarly, the aeration tank also must be carefully designed as it consists of numerous internal pipes known as diffusers. Since they decide the aeration level the number of diffusers has to be determined based on the need and capacity of the water treatment plant.

The second important thing to remember would be that the designing should be done keeping in mind the future operation and maintenance requirement of the plant. The filters for instance need to be periodically changed, there should be proper clearances and adequate space provided to carry out safe operational activities. The ventilation systems also need to be carefully placed to avoid issues like overheating. The exhaust and fresh air systems need to be placed strategically so that they can ensure proper circulation in restricted areas.

These are all complex design and maintenance needs which will see difficulty in execution in absence of BIM for Infrastructure Services. The 2D design, planning and construction strategies might find limitations when it comes to complex water treatment systems. From enhanced visualization to preconstruction clash detection, better project control etc. here are the advantages of using BIM for construction and management of water treatment plants.

BIM for water treatment plants

Enhanced Visualization:

Utilizing BIM it is possible to combine plans, information, and designs in order to create 3D visualization that can accurately represent what the final design will look like. Using Piping & Instrumentation diagrams (P&ID), CAD Drawings there is a significant imagination involved on the part of the AEC professional to properly visualize the end result. However, with BIM it is possible to properly visualize the design well before onsite construction. Enhanced visualization allows to create more innovative designs. Moreover, Clash Detection Services also enables the architects and engineers to spot any clashes well before construction. In a survey conducted by Autodesk 68% of respondents stated that better design solutions is one of the significant benefit of using BIM for plant design. This makes sense since using BIM tools yield better designing, encourages innovation etc. Finally, BIM can be used along with virtual reality and augmented reality to create simulations and walkthroughs. These simulations are not just useful for presentations and approvals but can also be used for maintenance. The workers can look at the simulations in order to get a better understanding of clearances available at different spaces, know the positions of equipment and how to access them etc. This could increase the speed of facility management as well as mitigate risk.

Parametrization faster project delivery

Parametrization refers to the creation of 3D models by using pre-programmed rules known as “parameters”. The advantage of parametrization is that once they defined then the elements of the same type can be generated automatically. Once created these parameters can be stored easily. In the water treatment plants there are a lot of repetitive components and parameterization can save a lot of time which would have been spend if each individual drawing of pipe, flange, valve etc. had to be done repetitively. Moreover, each parameter of a given component has a logical relationship with every other parameters. Thus, any change made in automatically reflected in all interconnected parameters.

Reduction of errors and omissions

In a study conducted by Dodge wastewater, 73% of respondents sated the BIM significantly reduced errors and omissions. There are a lot of reasons why errors could occur during construction like inadequate clash detection, ineffective communication etc. Utilizing BIM could help overcome such errors. It provides the designers, architects and engineers from different backgrounds and disciplines tools to properly communicate. It ensures that multiple stakeholders that will be involved throughout the construction and management of the water plant are on the same page. With the 3D modeling software the designs remain coordinated and up to date. It also has data validation capabilities that will ensure that the designs are consistent and adhere to project specific requirements. The 3D models can be checked and cross-checked by every individual that is involved so that nothing is left out and are consequently discovered onsite. The data-rich model can also be updated once the onsite construction is over to reflect the as-built status. This would ensure a streamlined facility management.

Improved cost management:

By improving the ability of all the stakeholders to see and work with 3D models BIM can help reduce requests for information (RFIs). This makes it possible to get better cost controls. Utilizing 5D BIM it is possible to connect cost related data with material quantities. This way any change in the quantity is automatically reflected in the overall cost. In such large scale projects it is imperative to keep track of cost at every stage of the project’s lifecycle. With BIM it is also possible to check different design alternatives and its impact on cost. With 5D BIM it is possible to choose the most cost-effective design alternative as well as ensures that the cost estimate is not extremely exaggerated in the end.


The utilization of BIM for water projects is increasing in both frequency as well as in generation of value. Looking at the above advantages like shorter execution cycles, increased efficiency in various processes, better site management etc. it is not really surprising. About us.

Written By:
Tesla OS
Tesla Outsourcing Services is an Architectural and Engineering Outsourcing Company providing CAD Services, Engineering and E-building Design Solutions (BIM Services) to clients across the globe.

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