Utility Master Plan - North Campus

Berks County Leesport, PA



Berks County’s North Campus is host to over a dozen county services/facilities, including a nursing home, prison, community reentry center, and service center annex. Before making long-term decisions regarding privatizing and/or expanding some of the services provided on the 750+ acre North Campus, the County needed to understand their current utility systems, their needs, and how fragmenting buildings from the systems could impact them. We completed a utility master plan to identify, map, and assess the campus central heating, electrical, water, and wastewater utilities.

Solution Details

Berks County’s North Campus has evolved greatly over time, with facilities dating back to the 1930s. Like many campus owners, the County found they had very outdated and often fragmented information on their campus’s utility systems. Facility managers needed to know the arrangement, size, and condition of the campus utilities. With this understanding, the County is able to better plan for future enhancement of each utility, and determine the implications involved, should the county privatize services or renovate any of their facilities.

Central Heating
The campus’s central steam heat plant serves the four largest facilities on the campus: the prison, nursing home, reentry center, and services annex. Three natural gas fired boilers provide the steam through 10,000 ft. of underground steam and condensate piping.
The steam distribution system was in poor condition in many areas. We estimated the steam distribution losses cost approximately $240,000 annually.
Two options were presented: (1) to maintain and improve the central heat plant and system or (2) to decentralize the system with condensing natural gas boilers at each facility and abandon the central heat plant. The short term costs are less with option 1, but the life cycle costs are less with option 2, plus there are fewer complications with any potential privatization and separation of campus facilities.

Overall, the electrical distribution equipment and generators are in good condition. A few projects were recommended (as part of a previous study) to replace old switchgear and emergency generators, which are currently budgeted/scheduled.

The campus water system is in good condition, with minimal problems. Separate meters should be installed in two locations, which would allow any building on the system (public of private) to be billed per their consumption. Also an existing underground reservoir tank, no longer in operation, should be capped and demolished to prevent any stagnant water from entering the system.

The County also owns and operates a .50MGD treatment plant that collects and treats wastewater from the campus and a few surrounding communities; the plant is in good condition. The collection system still sees moderate Inflow & Infiltration (I&I) from groundwater, due in part to 2,350LF of old terra-cotta pipe. It was recommended this pipe be replaced and sized to match the upstream pipe at 10,” preparing the system for any increased flow that could result from a potential prison expansion.

With the information on their utility systems in-hand, Berks County is now able to make more informed decisions, as they plan for the future of their campus. Knowing where the utilities are via GIS mapping information, what upgrades and expenses are needed, and how privatization/expansion of the campus facilities will affect their utilities will result in better long-term planning and decisions for the campus.

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