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A crane lowers a wye connector into place during construction of the low lake level pumping station.

Low lake level pumping station

As lake levels continue to fall during the worst drought on record in the Colorado River Basin, the Southern Nevada Water Authority is building a low lake level pumping station.

The pumping station will ensure Southern Nevada maintains access to its primary water supplies in Lake Mead, even if the lake dips below elevation 895’—the point at which Hoover Dam can no longer release water downstream to California, Arizona, and Mexico.

Lake Mead water levels have dropped more than 130 feet since the drought began in 2002.

Development of the pumping station consists of constructing a 26-foot-diameter access shaft more than 500 feet deep. At the bottom of the access shaft, a 12,500-square-foot underground cavern will be excavated.

The cavern, known as a forebay, will connect with 34 vertical shafts — each 500 feet deep and 6 feet in diameter — to accommodate the station’s 34 submersible pumping units. From the forebay, water will be pumped to our water treatment facilities.

The low lake level pumping station, combined with the recently completed Lake Mead Intake No. 3, will provide the community continued access to its primary water supply even as lake levels fluctuate because of the ongoing drought.

The $650-million project broke ground in mid-2015 and is scheduled for completion in 2020.

Low lake level pumping station progress

As construction on the low lake level pumping station continues, workers excavate a 12,500 square-foot forebay, an underground cavern connected to 34 deep well shafts.

This infographic, titled Southern Nevada Water Authority Lake Mead Pumping Stations, is described below.

The infographic above depicts pumping station number one's operating range as 1,050 feet above sea level. Pumping station number two's operating range is 1,000 feet above sea level. The low lake level pumping station's operating range is 875 feet above sea level. SNWA's low lake level pumping station will ensure Southern Nevada maintains access to its primary water supplies in Lake Mead, even if the lake dips below evelation 895' - the point at which Hoover Dam can no longer release water downstream to California, Arizona and Mexico. Low-level elevations also may require additional water treatment.