Deeper Dive - Cooling Water Infrastructure

Written by

Dawson Eifert

Published 3/5/2024

Last November, Anvil was recognized by the Northwest Construction Consumer Council for our work on a recent, private project in Washington state. Our organization was selected as recipients of the 2023 Best Private Project Over $10 Million for our work on a local client’s Cooling Water Infrastructure. 

This award-winning project was a complex scope of work involving several key engineering disciplines (see the project portfolio here). Here’s a more in depth look inside Anvil’s latest success story. 

Our client’s Cooling Water Infrastructure. 


For several decades, the refinery relied on two Cooling Water Towers to circulate cooling water to support the facility. However, after many years of use, both towers had become overtaxed from a thermal and hydraulic standpoint. 

Overcoming this challenge sparked the creative minds of our team.  

“The team was enthusiastic and excited to work on the project, and to be involved in a project that would increase the overall utility backbone strength of our client’s facility, ensuring reliability and future needs,” Tom Butenschoen says. 

Tom, who has been with Anvil for over forty years, was the Project Manager for this project. 

“Given our history with the client, [and] Anvil having worked within this particular refinery for many decades, combined with the strength of our team – we were confident this project would be successful.” 

During this project, Tom and his team would spend hours anticipating potential risks or obstacles, working hard to mitigate them before causing any issue. 

“One of the most complicated elements was determining how to implement a recircuiting plan of several water systems together while maintaining a cooling water operation,” Tom explains. 

To improve the overall performance of the cooling towers, Tom and his team expanded the capacity of the second cooling tower by reusing headers from the facilities’ existing Cooling Water Station and Condenser Water Return. As Tom describes, this project was designed to accommodate uninterrupted operations. A “jump over” line was installed to connect multiple Units to the Cooling Water Loop. 

“We performed several hydraulic models coupled with constructability models to determine plausible alternatives to achieve installations, then tuned these down to the most efficient and cost-effective solution,” Tom explains. “The most difficult puzzle was connecting the existing cooling water basin with the new basin without draining the original basin.” 

The existing basin had to remain full of water to stay operational. To allow this operation to continue, a custom temporary damming system was installed in the existing basin. 


Structural work is completed for the Cooling Water Tower expansion. 


Though Tom and the team worked hard to plan and execute this project, there would come to be one huge and unforeseen obstacle – the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“The pandemic changed the labor workforce and the material availabilities across the world, resulting in short staffing, material shortages, and large price increases,” Tom says. “There were difficult periods for sure, requiring constant adjustment.” 

Thankfully, under Tom’s stewardship and with the help of the client, our team was able to overcome this significant challenge. That said, the pandemic took a toll on both sides of the project. 

“Trusted, open communication – coupled with true team dedication – holds the key to any successful project,” Tom says. 

With a project of this magnitude, particularly one involving so many different teams, maintaining an open line of communication was always essential. Across this project, Anvil drew on professionals from our Control Systems, Electrical, Mechanical, Piping, Process, Structural, and Procurement disciplines. 

“It was very challenging to coordinate tasks that might eliminate communication gaps, but newer forms of technology helped a great deal,” Tom explains. “Remote access and sharing, live electronic document collaboration, and detailed logs and custom reports all played a huge role.” 


Tom Butenschoen at a 2022 Safety Fair. 


Ultimately, Anvil’s expansion of the second cooling tower significantly improved the reliability and operability of the existing system. Due to an early-stage hydraulic analysis and appropriate equipment-sizing, our team was also able to create options for future modifications if needed. Despite the concerns of managing a project of this magnitude and complexity amidst a global pandemic, our work was successfully completed on schedule. 

“This was a large project for Anvil, and we were successful,” Tom says. “There were some tough, unprecedented items to work through, and we worked through them. We learned and we adapted.” 

Tom, who joined Anvil in 1983, draws on the success of projects like these to continue driving forward. 

“For me, being involved in an excellent team-environment drives home the desire to stay on board and continue winning the next project.” 

On November 8, 2023, our client was officially recognized by the NWCCC. The project won the Best Private Project Over $10 Million award, Anvil’s sixth such recognition as the primary project engineering firm in this category. 

“It was pleasure to be recognized for our contribution in this way,” Tom says. “Teams from across the board put in a lot of effort to design and construct this project. In my mind, we continue to perform on these larger projects, and continue to evolve our large project capabilities.” 


Anvil team with their two 2023 NWCCC Awards. 


For an employee that has been cherished at Anvil for as long as Tom has, we couldn’t have been happier when seeing his direct work officially recognized by the NWCCC this last year. 

“Tom has the experience and background to quickly and efficiently handle any situation,” Jim Holien, Anvil’s Vice President, says. “He’s a true Swiss Army Knife, and even the clients have a hard time keeping up with him.” 

Our client had nothing but praise for Tom’s direct contribution to the award-winning work completed on their Cooling Water Infrastructure. 

According to the client project manager, “Without Tom, I don’t think we would have had such a successful project,”. 

At Anvil, we find great pride in the unrivaled, collective knowledge of our employees. Without the experience Tom and his peers, our team would simply not be able to deliver the high quality of work our organization has come to be accustomed to. 

To work alongside our award-winning team of experienced professionals, or for inquiries regarding similar scopes of work, please Contact Us.



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