Shared Orleans/JP pump station could be at 80 percent capacity for Harvey

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JEFFERSON – The pumping station at the 17th Street Canal, that serves parts of both Orleans and Jefferson parishes, could be working at 80 percent capacity by this weekend as tropical weather threatens to dump a lot of rain on the metro area early next week.

During the August 5 rain storm, a lot of Orleans Parish served by that pumping station had street flooding with some places getting water into cars, homes and businesses.

Jefferson Parish had minor flooding.

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However, it was later learned that the pumping station was crippled and late to be turned on even at its reduced capacity. Four of the main pumps and two others were out. Since that time, emergency crews have been working to up the ability at the station.

“We do expect one additional pump will come online by the weekend and that will bring us to 80 percent capacity at that station, which is a much better position than we were at a few weeks ago,” said councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken.

However, Jefferson Parish says it is already lining up shifts and bringing out assets in preparation of Harvey. Equipment and portable pumps are being readied for the lower parts of Jefferson towards Grand Isle. Workers are also making sure fuel tanks and vehicles are topped off and there are piles of rocks and sand in case some holes need to be patched.

“We’re riding the canals, making sure that there aren’t any blockages in the canals,” said Mitch Theriot, who is the director of drainage for Jefferson Parish. “We’re working overtime to do a lot of catch basin cleaning catching up on our list of pipe cleaning projects.”

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Jefferson Parish officials say communication with Orleans over problems at that pumping station is better than it was before and during the August 5 flooding rains. Jefferson Parish will have two workers at the station if Harvey drops heavy rain, but the two parishes have some items to work out.

"There are some agreements that gave us almost no access,” said Van Vrancken. “You really only had to request access to that pumping station in a named tropical storm or hurricane when the gates were closed at the lake and then you had to ask to be there. (That’s) not the kind of access I think that would make us comfortable.”

Jefferson Parish also has four retention ponds like the one at Pontiff Playground where the pumps come on automatically to hold rainwater until the pumps can catch up. Jefferson Parish said that without the retention pond, the flooding on August 5 may have been much worse.