In mid-2020, our water resources team was contacted by the property manager of the elite El Blanco resort in Mexico to inquire about our past experience with lined lakes, which are designed to prevent water percolation and seepage.

El Banco, Puerto Vallarta Mexico’s premiere beachfront property, is situated just 30 minutes from downtown on what is arguably the bay’s most gorgeous white-sandy beach. The community celebrates the pristine natural beauty of sand and sea with a low-density, high-luxury setting. Included within the community is the recently completed Susurros del Corazón, a member of the Auberge Resorts Collection and featured on Condé Nast Traveler and the Michelin Guide.

Ahead of the resort’s opening, the owners of El Banco were looking to rehabilitate an existing 4-acre lined lake located at the entrance to the community. Johnson Engineering was selected to review the existing lake and facilitate its rehabilitation based on our experience designing lined lakes in tropical and subtropical regions. Specific tasks included evaluating the existing lake design and providing design alternatives, including the lake configuration, lining, water supply, and aeration.

Following an initial site visit to investigate the subsurface conditions of the lake and its interconnectedness with the surrounding resort, our engineers prepared a preliminary design report. The report included design improvements and an annual water budget to estimate existing and future potential freshwater sources to keep the lake full for aesthetic purposes and use the lake for treated reuse water storage for irrigation.

Our multilingual design team worked in a cross-cultural setting with a team of engineers in Mexico (who took ultimate ownership of design and construction) to create plans for the new lake. Design elements included a 48-inch reinforced concrete bypass culvert, lake lining material imported from a US-based manufacturer, soil cover that facilitated littoral plantings, lake bottom shape, subgrade preparation, and aeration recommendations. Two additional site visits were made by our team during construction to review progress and check conformance with the project’s design intent.

Now complete, the refurbished lake plays an important role in water conservation by storing excess wet season water for irrigation use during the dry season and its banks have become attractive foraging habitat for migratory wading birds.

Throughout this project, the field of engineering and design proved to be universal no matter what country we were working in. This was a rewarding experience for our team and one we hope to be able to duplicate and expand on in future international endeavors.

For more information contact Jordan Varble, PE, at [email protected].