Springwells WTP Sluice Gates

Great Lakes Water Authority | Dearborn, MI
photo of the exterior of the Springwells Wastewater Treatment Plant in Dearborn, MI

Serving 3.8 million residents and 112 communities, the Springwells Water Treatment Plant (WTP) in Dearborn, MI is one of the largest plants in the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) system. At over 90 years old, the existing sedimentation basin sluice gates and guides, which provide critical functions in controlling and isolating the sedimentation basins at the plant, needed to be replaced due to significant operational inefficiencies.

Benesch led the replacement of the facility’s sluice gates, guides and actuators along with the demolition, removal, transportation and disposal of the existing cast iron gates, guides, actuators and appurtenances; the design and architectural improvements to four gate houses; and structure rehabilitation and upgrades to four sedimentation basins that housed the sluice gates and actuators.

The basins previously had eight sluice gates that weighed 12 tons each. It took innovative planning and removal techniques to lift and lower the gates down to the effluent and influent conduit located more than 15 feet below the gate house floor. New, lighter-weight sluice gates were custom designed to be self-contained, relieve wear on the facility, and made it operationally easier and safer for plant personnel to operate.

Given the heavy reliance on this plant, it was critical to maintain continuous operations during the project’s construction. A design-build delivery method was used to efficiently replace the facility’s sluice gates, guides and actuators without interrupting critical water service.

The approach also contributed to the GLWA being able to take ownership of the upgrades nearly a year earlier than anticipated and saving roughly 15% from the original budget.


  • 2023, American Council of Engineering Companies, Michigan - Merit Award