Project Spotlight: Low Lake Level Pumping Station Well Drilling Project


Project Goal

As a key part of the low lake level pumping station project at Lake Mead, Nevada, EarthRes was asked to provide engineering, consulting, design and fabrication support for multiple facets of the project.  The low lake level pumping station, scheduled for completion in 2020, will mitigate the effects of ongoing, drought issues in the Southwest US by allowing the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) to pump water in extreme low lake level conditions.  Lake Mead is the primary source of fresh water in the region and the low lake level pumping station and upon completion will be able to pump water from just 875 ft. above sea level.  Therefore, when lake levels are too low for SNWA to operate its existing pumping stations, this low lake level pumping station will become the primary pumping station, serving 900 million gallons of water a day to the region.

Situated between fault lines, this project required thirty-four (34), 72-inch diameter well shafts to be drilled adjacent to the lake at a depth of 500 feet deep to contain submersible pumps.  These pumping shafts are to be connected into a 12,500 square foot excavated forebay at the base of the shaft.  The well shafts required an extremely precise blind bore drilling method and required an engineering firm that could provide highly specialized, precision-engineered tools, equipment, and solutions.

Engineering Solution

Originally slated to assist in the development and engineering of just a few tasks, EarthRes’ multi-disciplinary engineering team took great pride in their responsiveness and ability to deliver support to the client on the completion of an increased scope of 13 intricate tasks.  These tasks included design of precision tooling for pilot hole drilling rigs, non‐conventional hydraulic sealing systems, design of concrete foundations for drilling operations, drill cuttings/material handling systems, steel structure design and analysis, electrical engineering and load system design verification, hydraulic lifting mechanisms, fabrication support, and a one‐off shaft survey system that was used to verify the accuracy and precision of the blind bore well shaft construction. The revised scope included conceptualization, product design, on-site fabrication support and hands-on testing for each of the tasks.  All of these projects were under strict guidelines, a tight timeframe and required expertise in a variety of engineering disciplines.

EarthRes engineers implemented state of the art modeling and analysis software to rapidly produce engineering documents and fabrication drawings. These models and analyses provided a firm foundation for EarthRes to support the client’s fabrication team in building and testing both prototypes and full-scale models of the tools and equipment that were specifically developed for the project.

EarthRes provided field support during all phases of the project, including design verification of existing equipment, site visits to verify the functionality of pending designs, in‐shop prototype testing, full-scale field testing and as‐built fabrication and design verification.