Expectations high as 'Pump To The River' passes first test

Pump to the River

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A tornado watch was issued for Jefferson Parish Monday afternoon as rains began pushing in from Tropical Storm Harvey.

Officials are now manning the Emergency Operations Center, believing they may be better equipped than ever to handle a heavy rain.

Along Dickory Avenue in Harahan, is a $150-million project from the Army Corps of Engineers to the people of East Jefferson.

"'Pump to the River' is still under corps control, but we did wet test it for the Harahan/ River Ridge area," said Jefferson Parish Chief Operating Officer Keith Conley.

The giant pump system, called 'Pump to the River' was first conceived back when Bill Clinton was president and 22 years later it is finally a reality.

It pumps water from the Soniat, and other Harahan area canals, over the levee, and into the river, and it was tested out this weekend during a moderate rain, just in time for Harvey.

"It was very successful," said Conley.

As a tornado watch was issued this afternoon, and rains began pushing in,  the Jefferson Parish Emergency Operation Center was manned with public works officials. They are part of a team managing a network of 181 pumps in both East and West Jefferson, two of which are down, and one is giving trouble.

"And we are under emergency contract to get those pumps ready," said Conley.

Another concern, Pumping Station No. 6, on the Orleans-Jefferson line, where six pumps were down on August 5th.

Jefferson Parish pays Orleans a million dollars a year for shared use, and until now, didn't have any of it's own workers inside. But that's been fixed. There's now a Jefferson Parish public service worker in place, inside the giant pump station.

"We have a  very good line of communication that we established a week ago, with New Orleans,"  said Joe Valiente, with the Jefferson Parish Emergency Operations Center.

The pump to the river drainage package is expected to relieve the strain on Pumping Station No. 6, and the one on Elmwood Canal, by diverting drainage to the river, instead of the canals that feed into the lake.

"It's not what it drains, as how it diverts water, and it affects the whole East Bank area," said Conley.

And it's now ready to roll as Harvey's bands spin this way.

Jefferson Parish officials say if you have any questions or concerns about catch basins or pumping stations, you can give them a call at (504) 349-5360.

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