New, hardier flood protection to go online before start of hurricane season

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Army Corps of Engineers is eager to have the new permanent pumps and closure structures go online in New Orleans.

"On this side, is the generator building where the exhausts are and the generators run the pumps and those are diesel generators, so our electricity is going to be driven entirely on site," said Corps spokesman Ricky Boyett as he stood near the new mammoth structure.

He said it pales in size only to a flood protection structure on the west bank.

"Now we have the second-largest pump station in the world with the 17th Street," Boyett stated.

The new equipment along the 17th Street, London Avenue and Orleans Avenue canals are close to being completed.

"We're about two weeks out from having everything completely finished and looking to turn the system over to the Flood Protection Authority…We're in now what we consider a punch list-phase and these are anything that we identify in the inspection process that the contractor has to finish," Boyett said.

And for the start of this year's Atlantic Hurricane Season the new flood protection apparatus will have the same two-fold purpose as their post-Katrina temporary predecessors.  They are designed to keep Lake Pontchartrain water buffed up by strong storm winds from crashing into the drainage canals running through communities.

"The idea is we'll close the gates, preventing surge from getting into it, they're built to an elevation of 16-feet and surge can't enter into the canal," said Boyett.

While at the same time the equipment will divert high water in the drainage canals that emanates from the city's internal drainage system out to the lake.

"For the temporary pumps we just used the shear force and volume to pick the water up and send it around…The new one will come out more as a giant waterfall kind of effect," Boyett stated.

The new flood protection is more muscular.

"They are sustainable, they're more robust than the temporary pumps than we have and they'll be able to provide that 100-year level of risk reduction where we're able to prevent a storm surge associated with a one-percent storm from getting into the canals," said Boyett.

Of course, with the new pumping stations, the temporary ones will have to be removed.

"We're going to completely remove the concrete, the steel, the pumps and every component…We expect to start work on that around June timeframe and then it'll take us about a year to remove the 17th, London, [and] Orleans structures…Then we need to come back in and mitigate for us having been here, and we'll make it a lot more user friendly area," said Boyett of the areas now filled with the temporary pumps and gates.

The price for all three new pump stations is nearly $700 million.

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