Harvey causes Jefferson Parish to activate new drainage tools

Harvey causes Jefferson Parish to activate new drainage tools

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish officials began activating a number of tools in their drainage arsenal Tuesday.

From Harahan to Old Metairie, pumps ran to prevent flooding, but on the 17th Street canal, there are still problems.

It  is a key part of the Old Metairie flood protection system, and Tuesday it ran well. Two of six pumps were used when rain from Harvey's bands moved through, and there's still plenty of room for more water if Harvey continues to pose a threat.

If you live in Old Metairie, and you hear the roar of diesel engines, not to worry. This is the sound of a system designed to take strain off the drainage canals and keep water out of homes.

"It's a floater system, it's automatic. This morning we had one pump, it activated itself," said Jefferson Parish COO Keith Conley.

96-acre Pontiff Playground is ringed by a levee to hold in millions of gallons of water in the event of a heavy rain, and it got a  test Tuesday morning from Harvey. The retention pond more important now than ever. Drainage from the area would normally feed into the 17th Street canal to be pumped out by Pumping Station 6. And although one large pump was just repaired and is being used as a backup, two large pumps and two small ones, a total of four out of 15 pumps, remain broken.

But Jefferson parish officials now have electronic monitoring and  full access to that large pump station to monitor operations.

"We have a SCADA system that gives us a reading on the 17th Street canal elevation. Minimum pump level is 10 feet. Yesterday it got to 16 feet, which alarmed us," said Conley.

The strain on Pumping Station 6 six also got an assist from the brand new pump-to-the-river project. It was activated once again to pump drainage away from the lake and into the Mississippi River. That reduces drainage and strain into the basin drained by Pumping Station 6, as well as the Elmwood canal that goes into the lake.

"We do man pump to the river, and it activates based on the elevation of the canal. Today one pump, yesterday all three pumps activated," said Conley.

Tropical Storm Harvey so far has only provided Jefferson Parish a mild test, but parish officials feel good about their ability to handle more rainwater if conditions grow worse.

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