The third time was a charm for CH2M HILL. It took the Englewood, Colo. firm three times to win the contract to build the new City of North Las Vegas Water Reclamation Facility.

The $240-million project had gone to bid two prior times in 2006 and 2008 as a design-build job, and CH2M HILL was the only firm to bid for the project each time. City statutes prohibit awarding public projects with only one bid.

CH2M HILL eventually won the contract as a construction manager-at-risk joint-venture with North Las Vegas-based New-Com Cos. The pair has worked together on $1.6 billion in construction projects in Southern Nevada.

CH2M HILL is the lead partner of the joint-venture dubbed CNLV Constructors II. Chicago-based Greeley and Hansen is the lead design engineer.

CNLV Constructors II broke ground on the guaranteed-maximum-price job in November 2008 at Carey Avenue and Betty Lane, just south of Nellis Air Force Base. The facility is located on 40 acres leased from the U.S. Air Force.

The city signed a 50-year, $25-million lease for the property, which will treat an estimated 25 million gallons of effluent a day. The plant uses Atlanta-based GE Energy membrane bioreactor technology that combines microfiltration with bacteria to break down waste.

“Bioreactors take up less space, last longer and cost less to use for treatment,” says Mark Albert, CH2M HILL senior vice president. “Once complete, the North Las Vegas plant will have the largest membrane bioreactor in North America.”

North Las Vegas had previously relied on Clark County and Las Vegas for its wastewater treatment. The new facility gives the city autonomy. It additionally makes up for a planned $860-million regional pipeline, which would have carried treated wastewater from each of the valley’s sewage plants to a spot at the bottom of Lake Mead. The regional Clean Water Coalition put the project on hold during the recession.

The new North Las Vegas treatment plant is being underwritten by 30-year construction bonds with the debt being retired by user fees. It marks the city’s largest civil works project to date.

Raw sewage enters the plant through a 35-ft-deep, three-pump inluent station with headworks that pass influent onto a container building that captures and finely screens grit down to 2 mm in size. From there, it travels to 12 concrete-lined membrane bioreactors basins where it’s treated.

Next, wastewater enters a contact building where it’s disinfected with sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach, before being dechlorinated. Final treated effluent is discharged into the county-owned Sloan Channel where it travels 15 mi to Lake Mead, Southern Nevada’s primary water supply.

Plant flow will amount to roughly 39 cu ft per second. The Sloan Channel is designed to handle a 100-year flood of 4,500 cu ft of water per second.

Water is later recycled for use in homes and businesses, schools and shopping centers. The surface level of Lake Mead dipped to 1,085 ft in September, less than 40% of its capacity, after a decade of boom growth and drought.

“The treatment facility is part of the city’s mission to better manage its water resources while serving future growth needs,” says Reed Scheppmann, North Las Vegas deputy director of utilities. “It also enables the city to better control its own destiny.”

Construction, meanwhile, will see 500 people during the peak of activity. The facility is expected to receive flows of 20 mgd upon opening in May. The plant is expandable to 50 mgd in the future. At press time, the project was on budget and on schedule.

Key Players

Owner: City of North Las Vegas
CM@R: CNLV Constructors II, A Joint Venture (CH2M HILL & New-Com Cos.)
Engineer/Design: Greeley and Hansen
Supplier: GE Energy