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Water authority meets to authorize emergency repairs
by Sarah Cooper
May 07, 2008 | 683 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy/Truckee Meadows Water Authority  About 200 feet of the Highland flume near Mogul Nev., broke after an April 26 earthquake, prompting an emergency meeting of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority Board of Directors.
Courtesy/Truckee Meadows Water Authority About 200 feet of the Highland flume near Mogul Nev., broke after an April 26 earthquake, prompting an emergency meeting of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority Board of Directors.
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The Truckee Meadows Water Authority was working on a slippery slope at an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon, where the TMWA Board of Directors discussed infrastructure malfunctions and repairs for the Highland Flume, a waterway that was partially destroyed during the 4.7 magnitude earthquake of April 26.

Two newly installed pumps at the TMWA treatment plant on Glendale Avenue malfunctioned Wednesday, cutting water output from 25 million gallons per day to 12.5 million gallons per day. One pump is currently being repaired while the other is still being inspected by the manufacturer.

In addition, the Highland Flume is inoperable after the earthquake and because of continuing instability in the surrounding hills, repairs are being put on hold.

“That hill has a lot of precarious rocks there,” said Pat Nielson, manager of Distribution Maintenance and Generation for TMWA. “It is not safe . . . with the earthquakes still occurring, we don’t want to put anyone out there.”

The TMWA Board of Directors decided Wednesday to pursue building an additional pump to mitigate the effects of the inoperable flume.

The immediate cost of the emergency measures will be about $785,000. That number is expected to increase to almost $2.3 million as a result of the emergency water needs. Cash reserves will be used to fund the projects, TMWA officials said.

“We have had a disaster and we have plans in effect to remedy the situation,” Jeff Tissier, TMWA’s CFO, said.

The water authority owns a pump adjacent to the Chalk Bluff Water treatment plant that is currently supplementing TMWA customers' water supply. However, officials said that he flume system is a much more financially appealing option.

“The flume is a very low-cost delivery system because it is gravity fed,” Nielson said. “Once you start pumping you have energy costs associated with that.”

Water Authority officials anticipate needing $210,000 to pay for the diesel fuel to run the pump adjacent to the Highland flume.

The flume normally provides more than 55 million gallons of water per day to the Chalk Bluff Treatment plant on McCarran Boulevard.

The water authority anticipates a 141 million gallons per day demand for the peak summer season. With the flume inoperable and the Glendale Avenue pumps out of commission, the daily water supply is now at 140.5 million gallons per day.

TMWA officials said they hope to have the flume operational again before peak water demands hit in the summer, however the repair process is complicated because of continuing hillside instability.

While the flume remains inoperable, the Chalk Bluff treatment plant is still operating at 75 percent of its normal capacity, with the auxiliary pump supplementing the water supply.

“At this time we are meeting all our demands,” Nielson said. “We are hoping that (the effect on the customer) will be transparent.”

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