Project leaders: Ute lake intake structure could be completed by July

QCS photo: Steve Hansen C2HM Hill employees can be seen working at the bottom of the intake structure shaft near the nine-foot-tall water cans that will house pumping equipment.

QCS photo: Steve Hansen
C2HM Hill employees can be seen working at the bottom of the intake structure shaft near the nine-foot-tall water cans that will house pumping equipment.

By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer

The Ute Lake intake construction project is on schedule with about half of the $14 million allocated to the project spent, Construction Manager Alan Ortega of Occam Engineering reported Wednesday at a public progress report session in Logan.

Project leaders believe the structure will be completed by July, Ortega said. The initial shaft, about 90 feet deep, is nearly complete, he said. Crews are currently pouring concrete lining and building a support bench for an intake screen to block large debris from entering the structure and the pipeline that will follow.

The intake structure is part of the first phase of the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority’s $550 million Ute Pipeline Project. When completed in about 20 years, the project is expected to pump water from the Ute Reservoir near Logan to Clovis, Portales, Elida, Texico, Grady, Melrose, and other areas of Curry and Roosevelt counties.

Ortega and Mitchell Haskins of CH2M Hill Engineering, which has conducted tunnel construction for the project, presented slides and information to a dozen residents at the update meeting.

Haskins described the safety and work procedures that CH2M Hill followed to conduct controlled blasts as the 51- by 93-foot main shaft was excavated. Steps were taken before the blasts to prevent cracking in the shaft’s external wall, he said. The crews have now installed rock bolts and applied shotcrete to help stabilize the wall while they continue to dig the shaft to its required depth.

There was also an underwater blast last summer to build a bench that will support the intake screen. The screen will filter out debris from water flowing from the lake through a horizontal pipe leading to the main intake shaft, Haskins said.

He said the bench is at an elevation of 3,729 feet in the reservoir, about 50 feet below the lake’s current surface level.

During the preparation of the intake bench, a 90 foot shock curtain has been placed in the water around the site. The curtain collects any dust and particles raised by the construction and prevents them from spreading into the reservoir, forcing debris to the bottom of the reservoir, Haskins said.

The project’s current phase has consumed over 235 cubic yards of concrete and the next phase will require an additional 135 cubic yards.

Ortega said on Thursday crews poured the first 12 feet of an 18 inch-thick concrete wall into the shaft. The concrete wall will be poured in increments of just over 11 feet each as the wall’s construction continues. Each concrete pour will require four days to cure before the wood-and-steel form liner can be raised for the next section to be poured.

Wallin said Eastern Plains Inc., a local firm, is providing the concrete, and about 4 percent, or $560,000, of the $14 million spent on this project will come back to the Village of Logan in gross receipt taxes.

Haskins said Eastern Plains has been able to meet the project’s specifications.

Haskins said the project is not expected to pour the next section of structure wall until January and construction on the horizontal pipe will not begin until mid to late February.

When construction begins, a bulkhead will be installed on the lake side of the tunnel, then radio- controlled drilling units will dig the 250 foot long, 54 inch diameter tunnel that will stop at the bulkhead, signaled by color-coding.

“We requested this meeting during a stakeholders meeting, feeling it would give the entire public an idea of what is going on at the construction site,” said Larry Wallin, Logan village manager.

Barbara Crockett, CH2M Hill’s community liaison, said, “This presentation is a wonderful idea and we are glad that the member of the share holders asked our firms to present this data to the community of Logan.”

Crockett said the firm is always happy to answer questions about the work procedures and safety guidelines but can not allow unauthorized persons on the work site due to insurance and safety concerns.

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