Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Letter from Ralph W. O'Neill and James R. Montgomery (Las Vegas) to the Colorado River Commission of Nevada (Henderson, Nevada), December 16, 1951






Report on how to increase the capacity of the Basic Magnesium, Inc. water facilities to allow for more water to go to the Las Vegas Valley Water District

Digital ID


Physical Identifier

Box 13 Folder W23-1-C Water Conservation - Supply from Lake Mead


hln000938. Union Pacific Railroad Collection, 1828-1995. MS-00397. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


This material is made available to facilitate private study, scholarship, or research. It may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by UNLV. Users are responsible for determining whether permissions are necessary from rights owners for any intended use and for obtaining all required permissions. Acknowledgement of the UNLV University Libraries is requested. For more information, please see the UNLV Special Collections policies on reproduction and use ( or contact us at?

Standardized Rights Statement

Digital Provenance

Digitized materials: physical originals can be viewed in Special Collections and Archives reading room

Digital Processing Note

Manual transcription





Las Vegas, Nevada December 16, 1951 The Colorado River Commission of Nevada Henderson, Nevada Gentlemen: On December 3, 1951, the Colorado River Commission authorized us to Investigate and report on the feasibility of increasing the capacity of the Lake Mead Water supply system, originally constructed for Basic Magnesium, Inc., from 30 to 50 million gallons per day. By this increase in capacity, it would be possible to serve not only the industries at Henderson but also to supply supplemental water to the Las Vegas area. In addition, the proposed facilities would make it possible to supply exchange water from the Las Vegas artesian area to the Henderson industries in emergencies. The investigation has reached a point where it is now possible to present an interim report showing that the project is not only feasible and practical from an engineering standpoint but its cost, we believe, is well within the bonding capacity of the Las Vegas Valley Water District. The technical data, developed in support of the project, is presented in considerable detail in the accompanying bound report entitled, "INTERIM REPORT ON LAKE MEAD WATER SUPPLY." The facilities required to increase the capacity of the system to 50 million gallons per day and to supply the Las Vegas region as well as the Henderson industries are as follows: 1 - Replace the six existing intake pumps with new pumps and motors. The existing units have 400 horse power motors and, with 5 units operating, will deliver approximately 30 million gallons per day under present operating conditions. The proposed replacement units would have 800 horse power motors, and 6 units operating, would deliver more than 50 million gallons per day at the lowest anticipated lake level under the new operating conditions. Under the new conditions, a standby pump would not be necessary because of the availability of water from the Las Vegas area in case of emergency and because of excess capacity except at lowest lake level. The cantilever design has been checked with the builders, the American Bridge Company, and the total loading, due to the recommended new units, is well within the loading capacity of the structure. The design of the 40" pipe line, throughout its entire length from intake to Henderson, has been checked and, under the increased head, will still be understressed. The estimated cost of the new pumps and installation is $174,300. 2 - No change would be necessary at the existing booster station other than to increase the range of the existing meter register. The existing pumps will deliver 50 million gallons per day to a site near the Manganese Ores plant. 3 - Install a new receiving basin and a new booster pumping station near the Manganese Ores plant for final delivery of water to the terminal reservoirs at Henderson. The pumps and motors now installed at the intake, with columns and one bowl removed, precisely fit the conditions at the proposed new booster pumping plant. The proposed receiving basin would be so constructed that it would supply gravity water to the Las Vegas area and to the booster pump suction header. However, the connections would be such that priority in rights would always be available to the Henderson industries. Also, the piping and valves would be so arranged that the receiving basin could be by-passed and delivery made directly to Henderson exactly as is now being done. This method of operation would no doubt be used throughout the cool season when Las Vegas water consumption is low. The estimated cost of the reservoir and booster station is $218,100. 4 - Construct a new 48" gravity pipe line from the reservoir in the vicinity of the Manganese Ores plant for delivery of water to the Las Vegas area. The pipe line would also be used to deliver water back from the Las Vegas area to the Henderson Industries in emergencies. The estimated cost of the new pipe line is $1,864,900. 5 - Provide 30 million gallons of additional storage capacity. It is suggested that this additional capacity be located in the Las Vegas area at an elevation which would make it available by gravity either to Las Vegas or to the industries at Henderson. However, this additional storage could be located near Manganese Ores or at Henderson and still be of value to all interested parties. The estimated cost of the new storage facilities is $840,000. 6 - Install additional transformer capacity at Henderson and at the existing booster station; Install new transformers, switch gear and appurtenances at the proposed new booster station; and, install a new underground cable from the existing booster station transformer bank to the Intake. No change would be necessary in the starting and control equipment at intake other than to replace the existing current transformers. The estimated cost of all electrical work is $377,700. The estimated cost of the entire project, as outlined herein and as described more fully in the accompanying bound "INTERIM REPORT", is $3,475,000. This estimate is subject to revision before presentation of the final report but, unless unforeseen contingencies develop, it will not change materially. When complete, the plant would be first class in every way and, even if it were being designed new for its intended use, it is doubtful if it would differ materially from the plan recommended. Respectfully submitted, s/Ralph W. O'Neill s/James M. Montgomery