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Construction team celebrates Lake Mead tunnel completion

Excavation of a new 5km tunnel which will improve water supplies to Las Vegas has been completed today after more than four years of work on site.

Vegas Tunnel Constructors, a joint venture of Impregilo and S A Healy, celebrated completion of the tunnelling work on the scheme at Lake Mead for the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

The project involved constructing a tunnel below the lake to create a new drinking water supply that is expected to be operational in 2015. Falling water levels in the Lake have meant that current water outfall pipes within the Hoover Dam are above the water level during the summer months.

Work on the tunnel has been challenging. According to Impregillo, the project encountered the highest water pressure of any tunnelling project in the world. The scheme was also delayed when the tunnel was flooded twice and a worker was also killed on the scheme in June 2012.

“This is one of most complex and challenging tunnelling operations ever attempted; therefore, today is a significant milestone for this historic project,” said Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager John Entsminger. “Coupled with a future pumping station capable of withdrawing water, even at extremely low lake levels, the new intake system helps assure a dependable supply of water for future generations.”

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