[StBernard] article from CityBusiness today

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Apr 26 22:40:55 EDT 2007

Broussard, Council want Corps to reinforce 17th Street Canal floodwall
By Jaime Guillet Staff Writer

2007-04-26 1:58 PM CST

ELMWOOD * The Jefferson Parish Council expressed deep concerns about whether
the western side of the 17th Street Canal will be as strong as the repaired
eastern side that was breached during Hurricane Katrina.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided a status report on levee repairs
at Wednesday's council meeting. Tom Podany, chief of the Corps' New Orleans
protection and restoration office, said there are no plans to reinforce the
canal's western floodwall because it is structurally intact at a safe water
level of 6 feet.

"We're looking at a new pumping station being completed in 2012 so we have a
five-year window where we're restricted to a safe water level of 6 (feet),"
said Councilman-at-large John Young. "Assuming everything is accurate, it
gives us a five-year window of Russian roulette."

Young requested the Council ask the Corps to reconsider reinforcing the
western side of the canal until the permanent pump station was complete.

"Obviously, if we can get that safe water level higher, we can pump more
water out in the event of an April-May rainfall and in the event one of
those gates is closed," Young said. "We will address it ourselves, but I
think it's a Corps responsibility."

The Corps completed its tests on 17th Street Canal pumps at the end of March
and will present a final report to the Council in May, Podany said. The
additional 18 pumps on the 17th Street Canal are fully operational and will
have a capacity of 5,200 cubic feet per second, or nearly 39,000 gallons, by
June 1. By mid-August, the capacity will reach 7,600 cfs after 11 more
temporary pumps are installed.

The Corps' news regarding the 17th Street Canal's safe water elevation
"sends a message that is kind of scary," said Parish President Aaron

He says his concerns are with human error at Pump Station 6, which is
operated by the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. Broussard fears after
the surge gate is closed, pumping will continue and potentially breach the

"I am very concerned about the propensity of Murphy's Law to continue to
revisit us as it has throughout our post-Katrina process. I am very
concerned * not about the lake getting in once the surge gate is closed *
I'm worried about the human error factor at Pump Station 6," Broussard said.

The Corps is considering shoring up "two identified weak spots" on the east
side of the canal by constructing sand ledges at the canal on the north and
south side of Veterans Memorial Boulevard, said John Ashley, project manager
for the 17th Street Canal eastern wall repairs. He said the Corps is
"waiting on the right-of-ways" from the New Orleans Sewerage and Water
Board. The repairs would take 30 days.

The Council was grim after Podany's report with Council Chairman Tom Capella
saying they needed "some good news."

"This is disappointing news to me," Broussard said. "After more examination
by the Corps instead of a vocal, optimistic rise in safe water level it's
staying as it is. To me that sends the message that we as the council
government, despite what any federal agency says, despite whatever our newly
created levee district says, we're going to have to be very diligent and
very urgent about digesting this report, looking specifically at areas of
vulnerability that are detected on our side and be ready to act as quickly
as possible by this hurricane season."*

More information about the StBernard mailing list