Las Vegas bets on firm to help keep city’s water running

BORING JOB Saab Seaeye drilled a tunnel into the bottom of Lake Mead to keep the water flowing into Las Vegas ' the water levels were getting below the line of the original inlet pipe
BORING JOB Saab Seaeye drilled a tunnel into the bottom of Lake Mead to keep the water flowing into Las Vegas ' the water levels were getting below the line of the original inlet pipe

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DEEP in the heart of the Nevada Desert, casino city Las Vegas has been on the brink of running dry for years.

But thanks to a Segensworth firm, the city that never sleeps will now have enough water to keep its fountains, canals and hotels going indefinitely.

Saab Seaeye has been taking part in a race to drill a tunnel deep through the bottom of Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir, to keep fresh water flowing to the city’s two million inhabitants.

Drought left the lake levels dangerously low, and it was feared that by next year the water would be below the level of the inlet pipe, meaning half of Las Vegas would run dry.

The firm used its smallest Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) Falcon, in an operation which lasted two years and 375 feet under water.

Operated by AUS Diving for main contractor Vegas Tunnel Constructors, the Falcon helped AUS in the tricky task of making a hole in the lake floor and installing the inlet structure.

AUS Diving’s vice president, Kerry Donohue was impressed that the Falcon performed tirelessly underwater for over two years, working three to four hours virtually every day, and including a stretch of 12 days for 24 hours a day.

And the company has not lost a moment of time due to the reliability of the Falcon.

‘Operating at over 300 feet deep for long periods we had to try and do without divers,’ he said.

‘We found that with proper planning most tasks can be accomplished by the ROV without diver intervention.’

They used the Falcon for a range of duties, including positioning explosive charges, overseeing rock and sediment removal, monitoring the precise location of the new inlet structure and securing the unit in place.

The objective was to create a hole, 30m square and 25m deep, in which a new inlet structure would be secured in concrete.

The new tunnel project, costing $700m, will allow Southern Nevada Water Authority to draw better quality water from a deeper location in the lake that supplies nearly half of the city’s fresh water.