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Helping ensure the health of America’s veterans

Benefits of the program have included improved water quality, improved fire safety and structural safety, prevention of erosion, and reduction of water lost to leaks and inefficiencies.

VA Medical Centers: Water Systems

VA Medical Centers: Water Systems


The Veterans Administration was officially founded in 1930, but it traces its roots to 1636, when the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony passed a law stating that soldiers disabled in the war against the Pequots would be supported by the colony.

One of the VA’s core functions is to provide healthcare services to America’s veterans. The VA’s network of Medical Centers has grown from 54 hospitals in 1950 to more than 150 today.

As the numbers make obvious, many VA Medical Centers are 50 years old or more, and in serious need of infrastructure, including drinking-water and wastewater systems.

The urgency of this work was underscored by the 2009 decision to direct VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to lead “a massive transformation of the VA into a high-performing 21st century organization that can better serve Veterans.”

Among the 16 major initiatives sought by Shinseki are several focused on healthcare, such as improving veterans’ mental health, designing a veteran-centric healthcare model, enhancing veterans’ access to healthcare, and improving the quality of healthcare while reducing costs.


Mott MacDonald is proud to have used its expertise to improving water and wastewater systems at VA Medical Centers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. Our services have included site investigations, geotechnical and hydrology studies, design concepts, design drawings, hydraulic modeling, 3D renderings, cost estimates, and construction phase services.

Wilmington, Delaware

The existing stormwater system at Wilmington’s VA Medical Center consists mainly of 70-year-old brick, mortar, and clay pipe. Sewer lines, stormwater lines, outfalls, and culverts have failed, especially in outbuildings and along two creeks, and a sanitary manhole at the hospital experienced sewage backup and odor problems.

In 2011, we assessed storm and sewer lines throughout the site and developed a master plan to correct deficiencies. We provided a video inspection of sewer and storm lines within the hospital and identified blocked passages. We also provided a before-and-after hydrology study and a full set of documents and specifications for necessary construction.

In 2012, we provided engineering services for the replacement of domestic-water storage tanks and interior hot-water pipes for Building 1. We provided designs for the demolition of three existing elevated storage tanks and the construction of a new 600,000-gallon (2.3-million-liter) tank that would meet requirements for fire control.

Perry Point, Maryland

Portions of the steam distribution system at the Perry Point VA Medical Center date back to 1931, and some were failing due to pipe corrosion. In 2013, we were retained as part of a joint venture to design the repair or replacement of the system. This will include the removal and proper disposal of demolished pipes, insulation, and other material.

The project will also include replacement of old piping with carbon-steel Schedule 80 steam pipes and copper type-K condensate pipes. Two new instantaneous domestic water heaters and storage tanks will be installed, and sidewalks, handicap ramps, storm gutters, trees, and other features disturbed by construction will be replaced.

Castle Point, New York

In 2006, engineering services were provided to the VA Medical Center in Castle Point by the engineering firm Staunton Chow, which later merged with Mott MacDonald. Design services were provided for the installation of a new water main intake from the Hudson River, installation of a new well-water pumping system, relocation of two 2,000-gallon (7,570-liter) storage tanks, and installation of a new emergency generator.

In 2009, we were retained to design improvements to the Medical Center’s aging water treatment plant. These included modifications to the presedimentation basin, addition of a filter-to-waste system, replacement of carbon-filter feed pumps, replacement of the backwash lagoon pumping station, and installation of new surface wash pumps and new backwash pumps with magnetic flowmeters.

Lyons, New York

In 2007, engineering services were provided to the VA Medical Center in Lyons by Staunton Chow, which later merged with Mott MacDonald. Most of the existing stormwater system was more than 50 years old and in dire need of upgrade or replacement.

Services included video survey work, soil erosion protection at the stormwater discharge point, improved drainage at the boiler-plant fuel-loading area, investigation of the cross-connection between the stormwater system and the steam-distribution drainage system, and development of an overall design package.

Montrose, New York

In 2001, we were retained to prepare design documents and construction phase services for the installation of a new water distribution system at the Montrose Campus of the VA Hudson Valley Healthcare System.

We assembled a team of civil, mechanical, electrical, structural, and geotechnical personnel, analyzed surface and subsurface conditions, advised on the need for selective demolition and asbestos abatement, and determined the location, type, size, and quantity of pipes, valves, connections, meters, and meter pits. We also ensured compliance with federal, state, and local regulations, and with applicable safety practices and procedures.

Lebanon, Pennsylvania

In 2011, we were retained to help correct brown water issues at the Medical Center. We constructed a GIS database and hydraulic model of the distribution system, and used them to evaluate water-main diameter, operating pressure, water demand, and required vs. available fire flow.

Hazen-Williams C-value fire hydrant flow tests and test pits were used to evaluate the condition of the pipes. Sections of pipe were cut out to evaluate the contribution of corrosion, tuberculation, and type of pipe to the poor water quality. We also conducted lead and asbestos investigations in all six buildings on the site.

Mott MacDonald developed working drawings and specifications for replacing the water lines inside the facility. Rather than replace the unlined metallic exterior pipe, we recommended cleaning and lining it with cement mortar.

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

In 2011, we were retained to provide engineering services for the replacement of a 300,000-gallon (11.3-million-liter) elevated water tank at the Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre. The tank was believed to date from 1950, when the Medical Center was constructed.

Our services included review of engineering drawings for piping, review of water consumption records, video inspection of the tank interior, lead analysis of the tank coating, structural assessment of the footings and supports, and design of piping improvements required to facilitate the demolition of the existing tank and the connection of the replacement tank.


In its work at six VA Medical Centers in four states, we have helped the VA accomplish its mission of improved healthcare for veterans.

Benefits have included improved water quality, improved fire safety and structural safety, prevention of erosion, and reduction of water lost to leaks and inefficiencies. Hydraulic models and GIS mapping provided by Mott MacDonald will help monitor water systems into the future, making it possible to detect and correct problems at an early stage.

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