The verdant banks of the Las Vegas Wash, the primary drainage channel for the 600-square-mile Las Vegas Valley watershed, have attracted people and wildlife for centuries. In 1964, when the Strip was a handful of casinos and population was roughly 65,000, Clark County built a municipal golf course at the confluence of the Las Vegas and Flamingo washes. Today, 200 million gallons of treated wastewater and urban runoff travel through the wash to Lake Mead. Given such exponential development, it's not surprising that in 2012 the second-largest rainfall since 1937 -- 1.65 inches within 3 hours -- inundated the golf course and surrounding properties.

Flash flooding damaged homes and businesses and killed at least one person. To keep that from happening again, the golf course was closed for three years while Clark County Public Works and partners designed and built channel improvements that removed 1,700 properties from the 100-year flood zone. Their efforts, which constitute the department's first construction-manager-at-risk (CMAR) contract, earned an American Public Works Association 2017 Project of the Year award in the Environment category (more than $75 million).

The project was delivered in three phases on an accelerated construction schedule:

  • Increase conveyance capacity of the washes through the golf course
  • Install erosion protection in the washes and tweak the golf course layout within the existing narrow right-of-way
  • Running concurrently with phase two, install a large-diameter gravity sewer (designed by HDR and the City of Las Vegas) through the golf course along the Flamingo Wash.

The washes were lowered by up to 15 feet and 350,000 cubic yards of dirt were removed to increase conveyance capacity. Whenever possible, the new drainage channel meanders through the course to be more aesthetically pleasing. The 13,700-foot channel was lined with grass turf, polypropylene turf reinforcement mat, and reinforced concrete to reduce erosion and increase structural stability. In addition to providing a total of approximately four miles of flood control improvements to four sections of the Las Vegas Wash, the project included reconstructing the Sahara Avenue Bridge across the golf course to eliminate a significant “pinch-point” on the wash, building three new pedestrian bridges over both washes, new freshwater and reclaimed-water systems, and construction of a new clubhouse and maintenance facility for the renamed Club at Sunrise golf facility.

"Longtime local golfers still will see and feel some of the Desert Rose mystique, including many of the original pine trees, but there is a new clubhouse, and several holes are completely different," Brian Hurlburt reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal when the course reopened in 2016. "Plus, the old 6-foot 'ditch,' a true course landmark that ran down the middle of the course between fairways, is now a massive, winding, grass-banked flood channel."

A comprehensive operations manual was written for the Clark County Regional Flood District by primary consultant CH2M. Clark County was the managing agency and Las Vegas Paving Corp. was primary contractor.

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