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Under the Desert, Behemoth Takes Shape

Friday, June 5, 2015

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LAKE MEAD, NV--There's a reason they call them "mega-projects."

The scale (and logistics, and certainly danger) of projects like Lake Mead Intake No. 3 are simply overwhelming.

The $817 million project by the Southern Nevada Water Authority was approved in 2005. Underground tunneling and excavation with the tunnel boring machine began in 2012.

And now, as the project nears completion this summer, the Water Authority has released a look at it.

Courtesy of Southern Nevada Water Authority

Far below the Las Vegas Valley, the $817 million Lake Mead Intake No. 3 project is nearly complete.

What's Below

The project will include:

  • A new intake opening at 860 feet;
  • A three-mile-long tunnel that will draw and convey water from a deeper location in Lake Mead;
  • A connecting tunnel from the new intake to an existing intake pumping station; and
  • Significant modifications to the second intake to tie it into the new intake.

Ninety percent of the Las Vegas Valley's drinking water comes from Lake Mead, and the lake is now at less than 40 percent of storage capacity. The lake also serves downstream users in Arizona, California and Mexico.

Years of severe drought in the Colorado River Basin have driven the project.

In addition, the Water Authority recently green-lighted development of a Low Lake Level Pumping Station that will allow the region to draw on the Colorado River water supply, if Lake Mead falls too low.

The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2015. And according to a Monday (June 1) update by the Water Authority, the work is on track.


Tagged categories: Government; Infrastructure; North America; potable water; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Tunnel

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