Water infrastructure refers to a vast system that keeps our water flowing across the Valley. "Water infrastructure is largely invisible to the public," said Doa Meade, Las Vegas Valley Water District Infrastructure Management Director. "Every time you turn on the tap, we deliver. People don't really think about what goes into making that happen until something breaks and an emergency service interruption occurs. Our goal is to prevent that from happening and make water service something our customers don't have to think about." Behind the scenes, the system—which includes millions of pipeline segments, valves, gaskets, meters, pumps and other critical components—is continually being assessed to prevent underground leaks, water main failures and other critical emergency situations.
What it takes to keep the water flowing
LVVWD's infrastructure management engineers evaluate the condition of water system components to ensure they operate efficiently. This includes assessing pipelines, employing advanced corrosion control programs and inspecting reservoirs and pumps. "We maximize the useful life of our infrastructure by being proactive in replacing or upgrading components before they fail," Meade said. "We utilize technologies like advanced software, predictive models and leak detection, combined with our internal expertise, to identify and prioritize replacements and repairs."
1. Pipeline Assessment
Under our streets is a labyrinth of water pipelines and service laterals that deliver water to homes and businesses. To keep those pipes watertight, LVVWD engineers perform condition assessments using historical pipeline data, remote-controlled cameras, acoustic-wave tests, visual inspections and leak detection equipment.
2. Corrosion Control
Southern Nevada's soil includes naturally occurring elements that can accelerate corrosion of underground pipelines. To keep corrosion at bay, engineers install corrosion control anodes along the pipelines. The anodes attract the corrosive forces away from the pipeline and protect it. Corrosion control efforts don't just save pipelines, they save money—replacing corroded anodes is more cost efficient than replacing the pipelines we rely on daily.
An infrastructure upgrade in progress
Built in the 1960s, the Dales Subdivision is a suburban community that is home to hundreds of Las Vegas residents and includes a neighborhood park, community center and elementary school. To ensure that the neighborhood's water system remains reliable, the infrastructure management team conducted a condition assessment and determined that underground pipelines required replacement. The project, which began in mid-2019, includes replacing more than 33,000 feet of pipelines and more than 1,000 water meters, in addition to upgrading and installing more than 70 new fire hydrants to improve the neighborhood's fire protection. The project will be completed later this year.
Investments for the future
Because of the LVVWD Infrastructure Management team, Las Vegas' water system is one of the most reliable in the nation. The frequency of water main breaks and emergency repairs is eight times lower than the national average, and proactive efforts to protect and enhance the community's water system in a cost-efficient manner will keep it on track for the future. "Making investments to renew, rehabilitate or replace water system components before they reach the end of their service life increases the reliability of the water delivery system," Meade said.