Chance Ryan / The Houma Courier
HOUMA, La. — Newly upgraded pump stations throughout Terrebonne Parish are ready to take on the impending hurricane season, parish officials say.
Over the past year, the parish has spent about $20 million on constructing and improving local pump stations to help alleviate flooding caused by hurricanes and other storms.
Two newly built pump stations are already up and running.
The Summerfield Pump Station, off Valhi Lagoon Court, collects water from Summerfield, Westgate and Sugar Mill Pointe subdivisions. The station pumps that water into a canal leading to Bayou Black and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
The station is equipped with four 48-inch pumps that will increase the station’s discharge capacity from 150,000 gallons per minute to 200,000 gallons per minute.
The Ashland Drainage Pump Station, which discharges into Bayou Grand Caillou, has two 36-inch pumps, one 48-inch pump and one 24-inch pump, increasing pumping capacity from 72,400 gallons per minute to 132,500 gallons per minute.
Baroid Pump Station on Wallis Street is nearing completion. The station will pump water from Houma’s Deweyville community and other neighborhoods around Barrow Street between Lafayette Street and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The station, which will discharge water into the Intracoastal, will be upgraded with three 48-inch pumps and one 30-inch pump. That will increase its capacity from 41,000 gallons per minute to 170,500 gallons per minute.
Additional pump station upgrades are still in the designing phase, and others are entering the bidding phase, officials said.
Many existing pump stations are either getting or have already been equipped with substantial improvements, said Parish President Michel Claudet and Public Works Director Greg Bush.
“Overall the parish is in great shape for the upcoming hurricane season,” Bush said.
Money for the pump stations and other improvement projects come from federal hurricane-recovery money paid to Terrebonne after hurricanes Gustav and Ike as well as the parish’s drainage fund.
Terrebonne Parish controls 72 pump stations that drain about 80 percent of the parish’s populated areas.
Miles of canals and ditches bring rainwater to the pump stations, which pump it out of the area protected by levee systems.
The three new pump stations are equipped with fully automated telemetry control panels, which allow engineers to constantly monitor stations’ oil levels and temperatures to make sure they don’t overheat.
The controls also alert operators if an engine suddenly shuts down or any pump fails. The existing Bonanza Pump Station on Synergy Center Boulevard, which has two new fuel-efficient engines, also had its control panels upgraded with telemetry. The parish plans to equip more facilities with telemetry control panels once money becomes available.
Though pump station operators monitor individual facilities, Public Works officials can monitor them at their telemetry lab.
“This lab is where all the control panels get tested and programed with software for an individual pump station,” Bush said.
If problems arise such as a pump station stopping or an engine overheating, operators can quickly dispatch a crew to the station, Bush said.
Other upgrades to pump stations, such as the 18-inch self-priming pumps that were added to the Gulf Access Road Pump Station in Dularge, are really going to make a difference, said District 1 Councilman John Navy.
Navy requested the self-priming pumps because the station had been taking on too much water over the years.
“Trust me when I tell you that it’s going to be a big plus for people living in the Dularge area,” he said.
The new pump stations are also hooked up with automatic bar screen cleaners that continuously clean trash and debris picked up in bayous.
Bush said Public Works doesn’t have the manpower to constantly clean the bar screens from all the trash and debris that’s floating in bayous and canals.
If the bar screens, which protect the pumps, get too clogged, that stalls water from reaching the pumps and forces them to shut down, Bush said.
“Already, we are starting to see improvements by these pump stations,” Bush said. During the heavy rainfall the parish experienced a week ago, “nobody flooded,” Bush said.