Nashville Metro Water Services


Nashville, TN


Civil Engineering

Nashville’s population is booming, so the need for utility infrastructure improvements in the city is on the rise. Metro Water Services delivers clean water to their more than 200,000 customers from two water treatment plants and more than 3,000 miles of water lines. The circa-1970 pipes that deliver water to the east side of the city needed repair, so Metro Water called on Gresham Smith to help upgrade the vital backbone of their eastern distribution system. On a fast-track schedule in less than 24 months, we delivered a sustainable solution that will save millions of dollars for Metro Water Services.

linear feet of pipe
customers impacted
saved in construction costs
Aerial view of pipe connection next to roadway

Serving the East Side of the City

Before the improvements, residents living on the east side of Nashville received their clean water through two pipes: a 36-inch diameter transmission main and a 60-inch diameter transmission main that pushed water to smaller distribution mains. But in the case of an emergency, such as a watermain break or plant going down, the community was in jeopardy of not having water available. To support MWS in providing uninterrupted water service to their customers and eliminate future water pressure and flow problems, we designed improvements to renew the aging infrastructure and add system resiliency.

A large pipe being lowered into the ground by a crane

Selecting the Right Solution

Our team developed three different design solutions before settling on the option that scored highest when evaluated for water quality, permitting, property acquisition, constructability, cost and schedule. The new route and distribution points we chose add enough capacity to the system that if there is an instance where one water treatment plant had to be shut down due to an emergency, sufficient water could still be pushed to the east side of the city. The design also included crossing the Stones River with a 36-inch water main. The new dual feed water transmission main pushes water from two different sources, providing ample clean water for the city.

Services We Provided

  • A routing study
  • Three design alternatives
  • Engineering for final design solution
  • Construction Administration
  • Surveying
  • Traffic Control
  • Utility Coordination
  • Permitting
Two workers guide a large pipe that is being lowered into the ground by a crane

A Fast-Track Schedule

We worked closely with Metro Water Services, Metro Nashville Public Works and the Tennessee Department of Transportation to complete the project on an expedited schedule. We weren’t working nine to five; we worked seven days a week, 24 hours a day and we were able to finish in less than 24 months. Working around the clock also had other benefits: we minimized the impact to traffic and residents and had more flexibility when it came to scheduling.

Pipe installation under river besides bridge

The Numbers Don’t Lie

We also conducted a triple bottom line analysis to explore community impacts and quantify the social, environmental and economic benefits of the project. The redundancy created by the improvements will lead to the following savings for MWS:

  • $5.5 million in additional expense and lost revenue in the event of future water disruptions
  • $8.7 million in future construction costs
  • $1.3 million in wasted time and fuel
  • $46 million in public health and external environmental costs