Returning to the Source

by Charles Bromley, P.E., Principal Engineer; Montgomery Watson, Las Vegas CA,
Philip Ryan, P.E., (M.ASCE), Principal Project Manager; CH2M Hill, Las Vegas CA,
Richard Coon, P.E., Principal Geotechnical Engineer; CH2M Hill, Bellevue, Washington,
Steven DeCou, P.E., Vice Pres. and Prin. Proj. Mgr.; CH2M Hill, Sacramento, CA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 5, Pg. 46-51

Document Type: Feature article


One hundred years ago, Las Vegas was a dry, dusty dot on the map with a population of only 100. The city grew up to become perhaps the gambling capital of the world, and more recently it has also developed a reputation as a desirable place to live. Today, southern Nevada supports a permanent population of 1.3 million, and Las Vegas is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States. The demands on its infrastructure, among them the need for more drinking water, have increased dramatically. To supplement an existing water intake system in nearby Lake Mead, engineers designed a new intake and supply system consisting of a 12 ft (3.6 m) diameter lake tap and intake shaft, 1,650 ft (500 m) of a 16 by 14 ft (5 by 4.2 m) horseshoe-shaped tunnel, and a pumping forebay approximately 165 ft (50 m) long, 35 ft (11 m) tall, and 30 ft (9 m) wide. The forebay, or reservoir, will serve a new intake pumping station, the point where Lake Mead water will begin its journey through the transmission system to the new treatment facility. With a uniform natural grade of approximately 5 percent across the site, the treatment plant was designed for complete gravity flow. To accommodate the wishes of surrounding communities, much of the plant's processes were placed below ground, and the building exterior was designed to blend in with its desert surroundings.

Subject Headings: Water intakes | Lakes | Water treatment plants | Urban areas | Pumping stations | Building design | Water tunnels

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