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$650M NV Pumping Station Reaches Completion

Friday, May 8, 2020

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Last month, Southern Nevada Water Authority, along with contractor Barnard of Nevada, Inc., announced that the $650 million Low Lake Level Pumping Station had reached completion.

The announcement arrives after the project was under construction for nearly five years.

“As drought conditions throughout the Colorado River Basin have caused Lake Mead’s water levels to decline over the past two decades, this pump station is a critical component of our infrastructure network that enables us to continue delivering drinking water to our community well into the future,” said SNWA General Manager John Entsminger.

About the Project

According to SNWA, water levels in Lake Mead have dropped more than 130 feet since the drought started in 2002. Should it fall below 895 in elevation, Hoover Dam would no longer be able to release water downstream to California, Arizona and Mexico.

Before construction could begin on a new pumping station, however, a third water intake needed to be constructed. In 2005, Lake Mead Intake No. 3 was approved and slated to cost $817 million. Although, underground tunneling and excavation with a tunnel boring machine didn’t begin until 2012.

By the summer of 2015, crews had completed a new intake opening measuring 875 feet in elevation, a three-mile-long tunnel for drawing and conveying water from a deeper location in the lake, a connecting tunnel from the new intake to an existing intake pumping station and modifications to the Lake Mead Intake No. 2 to tie into the new intake.

At the time, Lake Mead was said to provide 90% of Las Vegas drinking water and was also reported to be at less than 40% capacity. (These numbers are still accurate today.) With the installation of the deeper intake as compared to the 1,000- and 1,050-foot elevation intakes, Southern Nevada will continue to have water access, even if Lake Mead water levels continue to drop.

Construction on the pump station kicked off in mid-2015. According to SNWA, the pump station’s development involved constructing a 26-foot-diameter access shaft more than 500 feet deep, followed by the excavation of a 12,500-square-foot underground cavern at its bottom.

Known as the forebay, the cavern connects with 34 vertical shafts—each 500 feet deep and 6 feet in diameter—to accommodate the station’s 32 submersible pumping units. The station is reported to have the capacity to deliver up to 900 million gallons of water per day to treatment facilities.

Recent Water Infrastructure

Coming in on the heels of last month, Environmental and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, and Senator Tom Carper, D-Delaware, released two pieces of draft legislation that would authorize the investment of $19.5 billion in the nation’s water infrastructure.

The proposed legislation includes America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (AWIA 2020) and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, both of which aim to provide the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with funding for flood protection, ecological restoration and increased water storage.

To break each drafted bill down individually, the AWIA 2020 legislation plans to authorize $17 billion for infrastructure projects and sets a two-year goal for the Corps to complete various feasibility studies for potential projects.

Specifically, $4.3 billion in federal funds will be used for 20 Corps projects. Most notably, projects receiving the funds include a $909 million flood protection program in Norfolk, Virginia and a $794 million federal share for a $983.7 million flood protection plan for multiple areas along the Atlantic shore of Long Island, New York.

Additionally, the AWIA 2020 offers conditional funding amounting to $7.5 billion, which would be used over three years for the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) and $2.5 billion for drinking water SRFs. However, because the funding is conditional, budgetary scoring could require offsetting revenue increases.

The draft of the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act would use the remaining $2.5 billion to reauthorize the Safe Drinking Water Act emergency fund and would authorize $300 million in grants to help with cancer-linked chemical contaminations.

Additionally, at the end of February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that aims to help water systems face the challenges of aging infrastructure, workforce shortages, increasing costs, limited management capacity and declining rate bases.


Tagged categories: Completed projects; Government contracts; Industrial Contractors; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Locks and dams; NA; North America; potable water; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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