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Stormwater and Deicing Capacity Project

Indianapolis Airport Authority

FedEx’s $1.5 billion expansion to increase its capacity by 50% meant stormwater and deicing fluid runoff from airplanes had to be managed effectively and efficiently to maintain quality operations at the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) while protecting the local environment. Having designed the Seerley facility and the deicing facility at Midfield as well as written IND’s stormwater master plan, Wessler was chosen to lead an 18-member team of sub-consultants to meet IND’s timeline for this $130 million fast-tracked initiative. The project involved millions of gallons of increased capacity, designing two tunnels under I-70, a new lift station and time-tested innovative technologies and sustainable design features.

All deicing runoff runs through the Seerley Creek facility. FedEx wanted to use the location for its development by filling in the basin and constructing a building on top of it.

When temperatures drop below freezing, aircraft deicing fluid (ADF) is applied to remove/prevent ice from forming on airplanes. IND’s stormwater system has to provide for permit-compliant runoff to be discharged into a local stream with ADF runoff sent to Indianapolis’ sanitary sewer system.

All this work (including design and construction) had to be accomplished in a 26-month timeframe that would typically take more than four years while existing airport functions remained in operation, including controlling all the water coming on to the construction site as the project was being built.

The 43-million-gallon Seerley deicing storage facility was replaced with a new system on the south side of Interstate 70 with 70 million gallons of additional capacity. A 10-million-gallon underground storage tank replaced the former Seerley site, with pavement to be built on top of the tank for parking trucks and a new building occupying the remainder of the site.

From the tank, the team designed two tunnels under I-70: one containing a 78-inch gravity pipe and the other containing pressure pipes and fiber optic communication lines. Those tunnels connected into the new primary deicing facility at Hanna Avenue. The Hanna facility includes nearly 100 million gallons of lined storage in three earthen basins and a 40-million-gallon-per-day (MGD) lift station.

The West facility addressed expansion needs with the team designing a five-million-gallon lined storage basin with a floating cover and another pump station on the west side of IND along with a third tunnel under I-70. Stormwater is pumped through the third tunnel two miles across Hanna Avenue to the new facility, with all areas connecting into the Hanna facility. From that point, permit-compliant runoff is discharged to Seerley Creek and stormwater “contaminated” with deicing fluid runoff is pumped to the sanitary sewer.

A compressed air mixing system was a first-time element for IND. This system provided more efficient mixing and reduced the likelihood of birds landing in the basins, as they do not like turbulent water.

Sustainable design features include recycling opportunities, pump minimization and energy efficiency. The design accommodates future expansion of the deicing facility to add more storage for use down the road.

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William J. Leber, P.E., LEED AP

Stormwater Group Head

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