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Palominas project recognized at XXIV CEMEX Building Awards

Date published: Nov 17, 2015

CEMEX Collaborates with University to Turn Student Design into Concrete Reality

The Palominas Flood Protection and Groundwater Recharge project in Cochise County, AZ, aimed to solve a long-term, recurring problem of sheet flow flooding a local elementary school. The grassy slopes surrounding Palominas Elementary School provide a funnel-like surface for water to flood the school during heavy downpours.

A diverse partnership emerged to create the San Pedro River Recharge Network to undertake the pilot project. It included the Walton Foundation, Cochise County, Fort Huachuca, the Nature Conservancy and City of Sierra Vista.

CEMEX’s Sierra Vista Plant joined forces with KE&G Construction to complete the project within a three-month time frame. Working through more than two inches of rainfall, these dynamic teams beat the heaviest rains of the summer monsoon season.

“Without the daily support from CEMEX, KE&G would have never made the time frame required to beat the summer rains,” said Larry Saunders, KE&G Senior Project Manager.

“CEMEX was committed to meeting the challenges of this project head-on while helping our customers achieve their goals with this vital project,” said Eric Wittmann, Regional President, West Region, CEMEX USA.

Challenges to the project, beyond the short construction time frame, included the need for massive excavation of the sloping terrain.

The project includes a large detention basin that holds the storm water runoff, as well as dry wells and infiltration trenches located on 290 acres. The dry wells and infiltration trenches provide additional storage capacity during storms and reduce the loss of water through evaporation while increasing the amount of water recharged into the nearby San Pedro River.

Rains during the 2014 monsoon season measured 11.34 inches, and monitoring equipment showed the new system captured 36 acre-feet, or just under 12 million gallons of water.

“No storm water made it out of the system. It was all detained and recharged into the ground, except for unmeasured, but minimal, evaporation losses,” said Dennis Donovan, Cochise County Civil Engineer.

The project has been recognized with two awards from the Arizona Association of Counties. The local chapter of the AAC gave it the Judge’s Merit Award for Innovation of the Year, and it received the American Public Works Project of the Year in the Environment Category, Less Than $5 Million, at the state level. Most recently, the project placed third in the Infrastructure and Urbanism Category at the XXIV CEMEX Building Awards.

“This is a significant project for the Southwest, especially in the San Pedro River Valley, because it’s federally protected,” said Robin Dodson, Territory Manager for CEMEX in Arizona. “Construction of more projects like this in the Southwest is vital to a sustainable environment.”

CEMEX is a global building materials company that provides high quality products and reliable service to customers and communities in more than 50 countries throughout the world. Its U.S. network includes 13 cement plants, 46 strategically located distribution terminals, 74 aggregate quarries and more than 350 ready-mix concrete plants. For more information, visit