Built in the 1930s, Lake Mead sits behind the Hoover Dam, providing a municipal water supply to Nevada, Arizona, and California. Due to drought and a steeply rising population over the past decade, water levels have dropped dramatically.
The 19km Las Vegas Wash channel conveys highly treated wastewater to the lake; however, dilution capacity has decreased due to falling lake levels, and both effluent and nutrients are concentrated in certain areas of the lake.
Set up to improve water quality in the Las Vegas Wash, Lake Mead and the Colorado River system, the Clean Water Coalition (CWC), has commissioned an $800m (£502m) project as part of the water quality solution that will build one large pipeline to collect tertiary treated wastewater from several wastewater treatment facilities and convey it through the River Mountains via a 14.4km tunnel. Once the effluent has travelled through the mountains, it will begin a 30m descent that will produce the hydraulic head needed to generate electricity as the effluent is passed through a hydropower station, the water will then enter a distribution system that will take it deep into the lake via five pipelines.