Prairie Waters Project, Aurora, Colorado, United States of America


Prairie Waters Project is a huge water supply scheme, implemented by the city of Aurora in the state of Colorado, to supply the South Platte River's water to the city. The construction work on the project began in 2006. It was completed in October 2010 with an investment of $653m.

The project supplies about 3.3 billion gallons of water per annum and treats about 50 million gallons of water every day. It serves more than 300,000 people in the city of Aurora, and is expected to meet the water needs of the city until 2030.

CH2M HILL, the main contractor, delivered the project two months ahead of schedule and at a reduced final cost. The initial budget estimated for the project was $754m.

Prairie Waters Project won the Project Management Institute's (PMI) Project of the Year Award in 2011.

Background to the Prairie Waters Project

"CH2M HILL, the main contractor, delivered the project two months ahead of schedule and at a reduced final cost."

The project was undertaken following the drought conditions that the city of Aurora experienced for a few years, beginning from 2000. The water reserves available to the city became minimal and were not enough to serve the huge population.

The scarcity of water in Aurora, along with very limited alternatives to its water problem and the expected future population growth, necessitated a sound solution to meet the future water needs of the city. Prairie Waters Project was chosen from about 50 proposals that were brought forward to tackle the problem.

The implementation of the project called for various rigorous stakeholder agreements, approval and completion permits, and cases dealing with the use of land for the project.

Pipes, pumping stations and ARR basin

Prairie Waters Project comprised of constructing an aquifer recharge and recovery (ARR) basin, three pumping stations, 34mi (54.7km) of pipeline and a 50mgd water purification facility, known as Peter D. Binney Purification Facility.

The pipes used for the project range from 60 to 79 inches in diameter. The steel pipes were coated with polyurethane, mortar-lined and provided with cathodic protection system. The pipes were enclosed in 15 casings of about 84 inches diameter.

The three pumping stations, with a conveyance capacity of about 21,000 cubic feet, are rated at 6,000HP.

Delivering treated water to Aurora's population

The raw water reaching the Prairie Waters Project goes through various steps before finally being delivered to the residents of Aurora.

"Prairie Waters Project won the Project Management Institute's (PMI) Project of the Year Award in 2011."

The water is pumped from 17 wells located within the confines of the South Platte River Banks and piped to the ARR basin, where it is first naturally purified by allowing to flow through sand and gravel.

The water from the ARR basin is then piped through the 34mi pipeline to the three pumping stations. It is further sent to the Peter D. Binney Purification Facility located near the Aurora Reservoir.

The treatment process at the Binney Purification Facility comprises of softening to remove excess calcium and magnesium, advanced ultraviolet light oxidation, followed by granular media filtration and activated carbon absorption.

The purified water from the Binney D. Purification Facility is sent to the Robertsdale Tank and Pumping station for distribution.

Key players involved with Colorado's project

MWH Americas provided management consulting, design and engineering services for the project.

HDR Engineering acted as the third party engineer providing construction management services, along with CH2M HILL and MWH.

The microtunnelling works were carried out by Btrenchless and Reynolds Tierdael (GC).

The pipeline was designed by Denver while the Robertsdale pumping station was designed by Brown & Calweld along with Golden and Colo.

Various legal works associated with water rights for the project were undertaken with assistance from Deere & Ault Consultants.

The permissions regarding the construction of tunnels in various sensitive areas were sought through the guidance of Brownstein.

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