China Diversion Reconstruction

SERVICE STUDIO: Surveying Mapping & GIS, Material Testing & Inspection, Community Planning
Location: Owyhee, Nevada
Project Manager: Tom Hannum P.E./Brian Houston


This reconstruction project for the China Diversion out on the Owyhee River in Duck Valley, was critical to the Duck Valley Irrigation Project (DVIP), along with helping to improve seasonal upstream fish passage for salmonid, water conservation, drought mitigation, and flood control. The project consists of the reconstruction of new headworks, sluiceways, conduits, gates, outlet transitions, crest raise, and a structural overlay of the existing spillway.


Summit performed quality control inspection and testing and construction staking. Our survey team went out and calibrated the previously set control, ensuring that the staking was to all the proper elevations for all upgrades being done. They also staked out the grading limits for the disturbance of soils, this was all regulated by agencies and permitting.

The Geotechnical department put together a QC plan and helped to ensure that all testing was done, including testing concrete and soil, and inspection of rebar prior to concrete placement. The replacement of the existing highline, and implementation of gates, will help with the control of flow, provide better overflow prevention, and increase the capacity of the dam.

With Simerson Construction coming from Carson City they didn’t have knowledge of the local assets here in Elko. Since Summit has been working in the area for the last 41 years, we did, and we knew who would best fit their needs.

Important to the community & our client

The China Diversion Reconstruction was much needed for the (DVIP) and the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. The China Diversion was first constructed in 1937, while it had a significant rehabilitation in 1982, it had seriously deteriorated over the years. This diversion and improvements made to the Wildhorse Dam were built to provide a regular flow of irrigation water to Duck Valley.

Unique challenges and solutions

The Owyhee Reservation is in a remote part of northern Nevada, meaning coordination with the client and suppliers was key to the success of the project. With limited cell phone service out on site, scheduling and planning had to be done ahead of time. Also, the need to work around irrigation and migration of wildlife seasons meant working in the colder months of the year. This meant prepping for snow and rain and battling muddy and freezing conditions, with teamwork we were able to overcome all these obstacles.

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