Portfolio > Case Studies > City of Modesto Microwave Link

City of Modesto Microwave Link: We Have Ways of Making You Talk

Once upon a time, a wastewater treatment plant needed to communicate with its kin, a secondary wastewater treatment plant about 6 miles away. Regular phone lines didn't quite do the trick; the rural location made reception sketchy and the bandwidth proved insufficient for what the pair needed to discuss. So the City of Modesto set out to get them a high-speed data link, to help them communicate properly.

The City approached a company to put together a plan. Alas, the plan fell short. That's when the City came to JES Engineering.

Laying groundwork in the air

Part of the City's dilemma was that unbeknownst to them, they needed more services than most companies provide under one roof. Our role was to analyze and identify their exact needs, and then help them find the appropriate companies to get the jobs done.

We started by analyzing the data-exchange requirements needed between the two plants. Among other things, they needed something highly reliable and secure, with enough bandwidth to carry SCADA network communications. Getting the data from Point A to Point B required a clear passage for the microwave link, so we performed a physical path survey.

We then turned our attention to an existing tower at the Jennings Treatment Plant, the City's primary location. Was it sound enough to handle more weight? As engineers, we prize accuracy over assumptions, so we performed a structural analysis to determine the integrity to support new antenna loads.

We then analyzed the Sutter Treatment Plant, the secondary location. The site had no way to effectively receive wireless data, so we proposed a new tower for it. Our design ensured that the tower could handle current and future communication needs, and even made room for potential tenants (such as wireless carriers). Tenants = a welcomed source of revenue for the City.

The City of Modesto accepted our proposal, and it was time to find the companies that would make it happen.

Making the talk walk

To avoid the problem the City experienced initially, we separated the project into two contracts, with two sets of construction documents. We geared one toward construction companies, and addressed installing the new tower. We geared the other toward companies that specialize in microwave radios, and addressed the radio equipment installation and maintenance. We assisted in creating the bid packages, communication standards and specifications, bid walks, and evaluating the proposals that came in.

Once the contracts were awarded, we provided technical support throughout the construction process.

Today, the wastewater plants waste no time communicating. And with the ability to lease space on the new communication tower, the City can pull money out of thin air.

For this project, we provided:

  • Analysis of data exchange requirements
  • Physical path survey
  • Structural engineering analysis
  • Civil engineering design
  • Cost estimating
  • Contract specification development
  • Communication standards and specifications
  • Construction management services
  • Technical support throughout construction