With New Orleans still mopping up after Gustav, a hurricane that
wasn't as bad as it might have been, it's a good time to revisit the controversial flood
pumps the Army Corp of Engineers installed in the city after Hurricane Katrina.
this week released a statement stating the "pumps pumped and the system held."
storm, the Corps ordered gates at two of the city's outfall canals — at London
Avenue and 17th Street — to be closed and began pumping operations. In all the
pumps ran for ten hours, lowering the water level enough for New Orleans'
Sewerage and Water Board pumping stations to kick in. According to the Corps
statement, "this was the first time there has been enough water depth in the
canals to operate the pumps in a storm event situation."
not surprised the pumps worked is Dana Eller, vice president of Moving Water
International (MWI), the firm that designed and built the pumps. "The pumps performed
beautifully. They worked as designed," he says.
the pumps have passed their first test in a real storm, investigations of the
pump procurement process continue. Already the Corps and MWI have been subject to
federal investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and
Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General. These investigations
turned up no evidence of criminal wrongdoings or serious deficiencies in the
pump acquisition process-the kind of deficiencies that would endanger public
safety. The iinvestigations continued as recently as last month, however,
through the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.
Eller this week said he was confident that MWI would be
vindicated in the latest investigations too. He notes that none of the
investigations has brought out any new technical or design issues that MWI and
the Corps hadn't already addressed during the pumps' manufacturing and installation
phases. Check out this Design News article "Fixing New Orleans Flood Pumps" for a detailed look at what
those technical issues were.
"The bottom line is that the pumps just work," Eller says.