LVVWD Infrastructure Projects Overview
Between 1980 and 1998, Clark County was among the fastest-growing communities in the nation, which necessitated the Las Vegas Valley Water District focus on developing new facilities and infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing population.
In late 2007, these conditions changed significantly when much of the nation began to experience significant economic disruption. Local expansion efforts halted and many projects in progress were put on hold.
The Water District’s focus shifted from system expansion to asset management, with an increased emphasis on customer care for the 1.4 million residents in our service areas. All functions in support of this mission—from maintaining infrastructure to ensuring accurate metering and protecting water quality— require properly functioning and reliable physical assets.
Capital improvements are needed to reliably operate and maintain the Water District’s extensive water distribution system, as well as to address state-mandated water quality issues and new development need. In 2017, the Water District embarked on a ten-year, $616 million infrastructure renewal program to maintain Las Vegas’ water delivery system and avoid costly emergency repairs. Improvements cover three main areas:
- Asset management improvements
- Maintaining water quality
- Building new facilities
Asset Management Improvements
A substantial percentage of the Water District’s water system was constructed in the 1980s to address increasing demands. As a result, numerous facilities now exceed 30 years of age. Research has demonstrated that replacing or repairing utility components under emergency conditions is both more expensive and disruptive to customers than affecting maintenance through a systematic approach.
With this in mind, the Water District’s asset management strategy is to proactively reduce the life-cycle cost of infrastructure while maintaining high levels of reliability and meeting water-quality standards. This infrastructure management strategy is based on five foundational principles:
- Extend infrastructure life and prevent failures through timely maintenance and repairs
- Protect system assets through continual condition assessments
- Assess and prioritize projects to ensure critical system operations remain functional
- Minimize financial impacts through orderly, phased implementation
- Minimize financial outlays by maximizing asset life cycle
Key system components that must be addressed during the 10-year planning horizon include:
- Pumping stations
- Pipelines and service laterals
- Valves and vaults
- Water quality systems
- Groundwater wells
- Facilities and building improvements
- Electrical systems
- Communication systems
Cumulative costs associated with the repair and/or replacement of these hundreds of thousands of components—measures necessary to maintain current service levels, system reliability and water quality—are projected to be approximately $390 million over the next decade.
Maintaining Water Quality
The Las Vegas Valley Water District is responsible for ensuring that municipal water supplies meet strict state and federal health standards. To accomplish this, the agency collects more than 33,000 water samples a year and analyzes them for more than 100 regulated and unregulated contaminants.
Water quality regulations are enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Safe Drinking Water. Chief among these mandates is what is termed “backflow protection,” a mechanism that prevents the reintroduction of water from private properties into the municipal water system. Compliance with this state requirement will require the installation of approximately 35,000 backflow prevention devices on meters throughout the Water District’s service area.
To accomplish this, the Water District has prioritized backflow installations based on their degree of risk to the system and has begun systematically retrofitting properties that require backflow protection. The backflow prevention program is expected to cost $100 million during the ten-year Capital Improvements Plan timeline.
Building New Facilities
During the recession, the Water District deferred all nonessential construction projects. This required engineers to devise solutions that could provide access to the municipal water supply for residents and businesses in newly developed areas without investing in additional reservoirs and pumping stations.
While those solutions have proved effective, the absence of core infrastructure in affected areas undermines system reliability and subjects customers to vulnerability that is inconsistent with Water District standards.
To address this issue and ensure these customers receive the same level of reliability as residents in other parts of the valley, the Water District plans to construct a total of four reservoirs and four pumping stations.
Northwest Area Facilities
New facilities planned for construction in the Northwest area of the Las Vegas Valley include the development of two new water storage reservoirs— one with a capacity of 10 million gallons, the other with a capacity of 5 million gallons—along with two pumping stations. These new facilities will address the strain on existing infrastructure and to reduce residents’ vulnerability to service interruptions associated with scheduled or emergency outages.
Southwest Area Facilities
New facilities planned for construction include a 10 million-gallon water storage reservoir and a pumping station. In addition to providing an emergency water supply near customers, the proposed reservoir will alleviate pressure variability issues associated with the current engineering configuration. This benefits existing customers not only in terms of reliability, but in service quality as well.
West Area Facilities
New facilities planned for construction in this service area include the development of a 10-million-gallon water storage reservoir and a pumping station. Constructing this reservoir will reduce vulnerability and enhance overall system reliability. It also will provide additional capacity and emergency storage for any additional residential or commercial expansion that may occur in the area.