EPWater as an organization was not immune to the impact the global pandemic had on its capital improvement program (CIP). The fiscal implications the pandemic created required slowing down the rate at which the CIP was delivered. After the pandemic surge, there was a need to “catch-up” on much needed infrastructure improvements. In FY2022, EPWater’s CIP – driven by necessary investments in reliability, growth, and modernization – created a need for a 72% increase to the annual budget. Over 90 construction projects were identified, a number almost four factors higher than the average of the previous five years. Additionally, EPWater was witnessing a very volatile market impacted by material price escalations, supply chain issues, and competition for labor amongst other regional entities who were also “catching-up.” The regional construction market was saturated, evidenced by fewer and more expensive bids received per project. EPWater staff took a holistic approach to executing the increased CIP and evaluated the procurement methods available. The result was the grouping of similar projects into “mini-programs” in an effort to create more attractive projects to prospective bidders. This led to the implementation of the CMAR delivery method for executing the newly created “mini-programs.” The benefits included the ability to build a collaborative project team and pre-construction contractor engagement, which allowed EPWater as an owner to exercise early procurement packages and retain key contractors early to successfully deliver the CIP. Lessons are continuously being learned as EPWater embraces the use of the CMAR alternative delivery method.
Ivan Hernandez PE
Utility Engineering Division Manager
El Paso Water