The potential to use a three-dimensional (3D) computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model to produce the complexity of the flows in water-pump intakes and the prospects to use it as an effective assistant in the design or fixing of the related problems are reported. A scaled model of a real water-pump intake with flow conditions corresponding to the prototype was selected and studied. The Reynolds number of the model flow is 120 000, based on the diameter and bulk velocity in the pump column. The 3D CFD model solves the Reynolds averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) equations with the k–ɛ turbulence model with wall function. A multi-block structured mesh was used. Numerical simulations are processed to reveal the important flow features in the entire flow field, compare the streamwise velocity distribution in the approaching channel, at and above the pump throat, as well as the swirl of flow at the pump throat. Numerical results provide insights into the complexity of flow around and inside the pump column under different incoming flows. This study makes significant strides from a simple intake to a real one and shows good prospects of further use of this 3D model to simulate flows in practical water-pump intakes.