Environmental Compliance Completed for Massive Infrastructure Investment in Death Valley National Park

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – Safe and reliable water is essential in Death Valley National Park, often one of the hottest places on Earth. The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) Legacy Restoration Fund is providing approximately $62 million to complete critical upgrades to the park’s water and wastewater infrastructure. The project is crucial to address deferred maintenance and repair needs, while also remediating environmental hazards, enhancing conservation, and creating healthier ecosystems.

“The Great American Outdoors Act is a game-changer for Death Valley,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “This project to rehabilitate two old and failing utility systems will take care of critical infrastructure needs and ensure a sustainable water supply while protecting the fragile desert ecosystem.”

The modernization of the Furnace Creek and Cow Creek water and wastewater systems is expected to begin next year. Subject to the final contract award, the project will:

  • Replace over 12 miles of aging water and sewer pipes
  • Construct a new well to eliminate use of the environmentally sensitive Nevares Spring
  • Replace well pumps in the Furnace Creek system
  • Replace one lift station and eliminate two others to improve efficiency and reduce maintenance
  • Build a new water treatment building at Cow Creek and upgrade the existing facility at Furnace Creek
  • Upgrade the Furnace Creek sewage treatment lagoon system

The project will also create looped water systems, ensuring uninterrupted water service even if there is a section break in the water main pipe. This is a key improvement for a water system that required repairs 32 times in 2023 and 67 times in 2022.

The upgrades to the wastewater system will reduce the risk of untreated sewage leaking into the park, thereby safeguarding the delicate desert environment. NPS staff repaired Death Valley’s wastewater systems 12 times in 2023 and 15 times in 2022.

“This is about more than fixing pipes,” said Reynolds. “It is about preserving the natural wonder of Death Valley and enhancing the visitor experience for generations to come.”

The National Park Service has completed the required environmental assessments for the project. The Finding of No Significant Impact can be viewed at parkplanning.nps.gov/WaterWastewater.

GAOA is part of a concerted effort to address the extensive deferred maintenance and repair backlog in national parks. Supported by revenue from energy development, GAOA’s Legacy Restoration Fund provides up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and enjoyment for current and future visitors.

 A white temporary A-frame sign shows a hand in a red circle and reads, "Restrooms closed". This sign is placed at Furnace Creek Visitor Center when the water system is broken.

A white temporary A-frame sign shows a hand in a red circle and reads, “Restrooms closed”. This sign is placed at Furnace Creek Visitor Center when the water system is broken. Photo by NPS


Main image: A NPS employee uses a rented bulldozer to add material to prevent release of partially-treated wastewater from the Furnace Creek sewage lagoons in April 2024.

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