Cloward H2O starts work on Riversport Rapids upgrades

Leading provider of aquatic design and engineering services, Cloward H2O, has begun work on upgrading Riversport Rapids in Oklahoma City three years after its original opening.

The watersports facility hosts an average of 2,000 individual raft rides per day, serving as a first-class competition venue and whitewater family recreation attraction since the summer of 2016. Cloward H2O worked on the original design for Phase 1 of the project providing engineering for the extensive concrete structure and mechanicals systems. They are now back working on upgrades to improve the guest experience at the facility.

Cloward H2O is currently working on improvements to overall power efficiency and water quality management at the sports venue.

“With six 750 Hp [600 kW] pumps operating the main channel flow we found there was room to improve the power consumption characteristics and significantly reduce operating cost.” says Allen Clawson, Cloward H2O, Principal in charge of the project.

There are also plans in the works for the addition of new attractions for guests to enjoy while not participating in the whitewater. This may include a surfing attraction and interactive water play area that will allow children to manipulate flow in a scaled down version of the whitewater centre.

For its opening in 2016, Cloward H2O engineers and lead architect, S2o Design worked to engineer the dual man-made river channels to deliver a powerful whitewater experience while ensuring the safety of riders of all ages and experience. Cloward H2O provided engineering for the concrete structures, water treatment, and the heart of the venue – a massive river circulation pumping system. The submersible propeller pumps move nearly 500,000 gallons of water per minute [114,000 m3/hr] to the upper pond.  From there it rushes through the course creating world class rapids and waves driving the whitewater experience. That’s enough flow to fill an Olympic sized pool every 80 seconds. A specially-design recirculation system treats the nearly 9 million gallons of water contained in the course. 

Several innovative advancements were implemented in engineering and construction of the OKC Riversport Rapids venue. The team developed specialised methods to pour and finish the 11,000 cubic yards of concrete accounting for shrinkage and thermal expansion/contraction of the watertight concrete structure. A bespoke hydraulically controlled and navigable head gate system gives the operator the ability to modulate flow between the two channels dynamically during guest sessions.

Another innovation is the Rapid Blocs obstacles and a rail mounting system in the channel floor. More than seven miles of steel channel were installed on the floor of the river to anchor the movable Rapid Blocs. With this system, the operator can configure the channel characteristics to infinite variations to change the experience.