Keeping Runways Free of Water is Key to Safety

Apr 7, 2024 | Aviation, Safety & Security

An airfield construction project at LAS aims to increase safety and efficiency by taking a runway drainage system below ground. 

Crews began work last year to replace above-ground drainage ditches with underground drain pipes. These pipes will help direct water away from the ends of Runways 26 left and 26 right. 

“It’s important to keep the runways water-free because if we get any puddles or a lot of water on the runways, then that can affect the braking action of the aircraft,” Airside Operations Supervisor Matt Anhalt said.

The improvements are also necessary to decrease standing water around the runways, which can attract birds and other wildlife that pose a threat to aircraft. Moving the drainage system underground also lessens the amount of water that evaporates into the atmosphere.

“The more water that is on the airfield, over time that can create vegetation, and then vegetation attracts small rodents and wildlife, and that can in turn attract larger wildlife,” Anhalt said. “We want to try and keep wildlife off the airfield as much as possible for safety reasons.”

The underground drainage system will reduce the need for necessary maintenance due to erosion around the existing drainage ditches. 

The scope of work calls for nearly four miles of storm drain pipe to be installed. Estimated completion for the federally-funded project is late this summer. 

Watch the full video story below.

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