Kaua‘i’s Aqua Engineers signs $230M contract

Kaua‘i-based Aqua Engineers Inc. has been awarded a $229 million, 50-year military contract for the privatization of the U.S. Army Wastewater Collection Systems on O‘ahu.

An estimated 10 new full-time positions will be created over the life of the service agreement. The deal makes the water and wastewater management company Hawai‘i’s largest.

Aqua Engineers was selected for its technical approach to improving the once government-owned utility, while maintaining cost competitiveness for the O‘ahu-wide wastewater utility project. The firm expects to save the Army more than $18 million in financing charges by using new technology and funding initial capital upgrades internally.

Army officials and Aqua Engineers signed the contract agreement last week, signifying the complete divestiture and transfer of ownership of a government-owned utility system to a non-government entity.

“Our experience in the wastewater industry and high company standards, combined with our Schofield Barracks Wastewater Treatment Plant ownership experience, enables our team to provide cost-effective, efficient, and reliable services,” Eassie Miller, president and CEO of Aqua Engineers, said.

The project includes the acquisition of wastewater installations at Fort Shafter, Aliamanu Military Reservation, Fort DeRussy, Tripler Army Medical Center, Red Hill Coast Guard, Hickam Air Force Base, Pilila‘au Army Recreation Center and Schofield Barracks.

Aqua Engineers will provide necessary improvements, upgrades, repairs, expansions, investments and facility replacements, as well as continue to operate and maintain the utility wastewater collection systems.

“I am proud of Hawai‘i small business Aqua Engineers for working hard, understanding the Army’s needs and then providing a workable plan with the best value to win the competition,” Hawai‘i Sen. Daniel Inouye said. “This is a win-win for all parties.”

This is the second military privatization project awarded to Aqua Engineers. In November 2006, Aqua Engineers successfully completed upgrades to the Schofield Barracks Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant was the first to come under the Department of Defense’s privatization program to contract with private-sector companies and take over utility and housing operations on hundreds of military bases across the country in order to decrease costs and streamline projects.

For its work at Schofield Barracks, and on a surface water treatment facility on Kaua‘i, Aqua Engineers was awarded the GE Ecomagination Award in 2007 and again in 2008, receiving project recognition for its partnership with the military and for lowering emissions.

Aqua Engineers was founded in 1981 to meet a need for trained operators for privately owned wastewater treatment plants on Kaua‘i. The company now operates and maintains 28 wastewater systems, more than 75 pumping stations and 11 water stations throughout Hawai‘i.

Aqua Engineers has nearly 100 employees specializing in engineering, construction, operations, maintenance, and management of water and wastewater systems.

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