Expert Interview With Jill Manning Hudkins, Water Infrastructure Expert
Jill Manning Hudkins is Tetra Tech’s One Water Initiative leader. She has 25 years of consulting engineering experience and is responsible for the development and implementation of many of Tetra Tech’s large water supply, conveyance, and treatment programs. Her experience includes master planning, design, permitting, construction administration, and a variety of technical assignments for water infrastructure projects with specific expertise in the application of membrane technologies.
Ms. Hudkins is a member of the American Water Works Association, the Water Environment Federation, and the American Membrane Technology Association. She has served on the Southeast Desalting Association Board of Directors for six years, served as president for three years, and is an active member. Ms. Hudkins holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Duke University and a Master of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a registered Professional Engineer in Florida and Texas.
What are the leading drivers for municipal water and wastewater projects?
Limited water resources, implementation of new regulations, and aging infrastructure are pushing municipalities to address their infrastructure and planning. Regions that are susceptible to or are currently experiencing water shortages are facing an increasingly urgent need to develop sustainable local water supply sources. Utilities are focusing on locating their highest-quality available water source for implementing the most feasible and cost-efficient water supply projects for their customers. Alternative water supply trends include brackish groundwater desalination facilities and initiatives that involve purifying reclaimed water for aquifer recharge. Further project opportunities in the wastewater market are being driven by water reclamation needs, regulatory compliance requirements and consent decrees, and facility operational optimization for improved operation and maintenance cost savings.
What sets Tetra Tech apart from other firms that work in the water and wastewater markets?
For the past 15 years, Tetra Tech has been ranked number 1 in water by Engineering News-Record magazine. We’re also currently ranked first in water treatment and desalination because of our volume of work in this practice area. Based on the number of membrane treatment facilities that Tetra Tech has delivered, we have developed close working relationships with manufacturers and specialists familiar with the rapidly evolving membrane treatment industry. We have significant expertise in water supply, distribution, treatment, and storage; and we have designed a combined 300 MGD (million-gallons-per-day) of constructed and installed membrane capacity. In the last 10 years, we’ve also designed more than 200 MGD of reverse osmosis processes at water treatment facilities for brackish and seawater sources. Our experts are well-versed in desalination for municipal, commercial, and industrial customers.
What is the state of desalination programs in the United States today?
I think it is important to discuss brackish groundwater desalination and seawater desalination separately. Brackish groundwater desalination continues to flourish in the U.S., with new plants being planned in California, Florida, and Texas. Development of viable seawater desalination projects in the U.S. continues to be a challenge. Currently, Tampa Bay Water operates a 25-MGD seawater desalination facility, and almost a dozen additional facilities are planned throughout the U.S. However, the implementation schedule for this type of project can be 10 to 20 years, so seawater desalination continues to develop slowly in the U.S. Currently the majority of US desalination facilities use reverse osmosis technology.
What are some of the locations where Tetra Tech is helping clients evaluate and implement alternative water supplies?
Tetra Tech is currently working on multiple alternative water supply projects across North America. Recently completed examples include our work with the San Antonio Water System in Texas and Huntsville Utilities in Alabama. San Antonio Water System’s $145-million brackish groundwater desalination program uses reverse osmosis technology for producing approximately 12-MGD of drinking water. Huntsville Utilities’ $90-million surface water treatment program produces 24-MGD of drinking water. Two notable ongoing potable reuse projects that Tetra Tech is working on include the 14.8-MGD Groundwater Reliability Improvement Program for the Water Replenishment District of Southern California and the 3-MGD Groundwater Replenishment Program for the City of Clearwater, Florida.