The City of Aurora recognized that drought preparedness was quickly rising to be the top issue related to ensuring Aurora’s long-term future. As such, visionaries in Aurora Water designed and ultimately built the Prairie Waters Project — the largest and most complex capital project in the city’s history. To make it happen, they had to challenge the ways they'd done just about everything in the past.
A message to the entire PWP team
I think the PWP/BWPF project demonstrated the power of starting with the end mind – a shared vision we willed to happen. I remember all of us sitting in a “conference room” at the Embassy Suites with flip charts on easels and we were writing on the giant post it notes what our “Vision” was for the plant. This was before a shovel of dirt had been turned. We had a clear understanding of what our piece in this mission was and we were all, to a person, hyper focused on reaching our goal.
Now, 10 years later the plant is truly one of the highest performing, highest profile plants in North America. People come from all over the world to see how WE did it. We have a sign now in the lobby that states how many days since the plant has had an Individual Filter Effluent turbidity or a Combined Filter Effluent Turbidity > 0.10 ntu. This morning the number is 3,564 days. That’s’ how many days the plant has been in service, it’s never had a Filter Effluent turbidity or a Combined Filter Effluent Turbidity > 0.10 ntu, ever!!
That’s a tribute to all of you and the commitment to excellence we built this plant with. There is not a day goes by that I don’t thank you for that.
Reflecting back on the PWP
The Prairie Waters Project was a massive undertaking for the City of Aurora, Colorado. Starting in 2005, and responding to extraordinary drought conditions, the City planned, designed, and completed a new $700-million water supply system in less than five years. A very diverse team was required and assembled to meet this challenge.
Extraordinary talent and commitment made this possible, glued together by Team Chartering, which was invaluable in creation of a high performance team. Corporate identities were erased, and the team functioned with a singular purpose and mutual commitment – to one another and the mission.
Ten years after its completion, the new water supply continues to fortify Aurora’s water supply and our team members consider this accomplishment a bench-mark in their personal and professional lives.
The largest, most complex capital project ever undertaken by the City of Aurora required the services of some 20+ different outside firms (engineers, consultants, etc.), and nearly all aspects of the Aurora Water department as well as most departments with in the City. Old rules needed to be reshaped, historic relationships needed to be reshaped, and the power of the team needed to be unleashed to the benefit of the City. There was no time or appetite for infighting, power-playing, or political posturing.
We provided a variety of services over the years — mostly in the categories of alignment, team and project chartering, as well as strategy and organizational development.
High performance team environment, effective communication, significant reduction in overall project costs ($101 million overall project savings). The Prairie Waters Project was named the 2011 Project of the Year for both the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the American Public Works Association (APWA).
In addition, the Prairie Waters Project was cited 20 times for excellence in the PMI/MIT/INCOSE study related to Managing Lean Enablers in Large Engineering Projects.
See video starting at 2:41 where Larry Catalano (Aurora Water’s former manager of capital projects) talks about the role of team culture in the success of the Prairie Waters Project.
2006 - 2011