St. Bernard pumps sufficient despite outages, officials say

St. Bernard Parish’s drainage pumps have performed well so far in Tropical Storm Cindy, allaying fears about faulty equipment that forced several pumps out-of-service for repairs.

WWL-TV reported on the problems with two of the parish’s pumping stations last month. Corrosion and design errors caused failures at all four of the pumps at Pumping Station No. 2 and all three of the pumps at Pumping Station No. 3, levee district officials said.

“There were issues with the materials being used when the Corps designed and had those constructed after Katrina,” said Bob Turner, regional director for the East Bank levee authority, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East.

But stations No. 2 and No. 3 are considered auxiliary pump stations and are rarely used, St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis said. What’s more, three of the four pumps at Station No. 2 are already fixed and back online, Turner said.

The fourth pump at Station No. 2 is also fixed already, but an engine issue was discovered when the levee district tried to reinstall it. That should be resolved in the coming days, Turner said.

The three small pumps at Station No. 3 have also been repaired and are awaiting installation by the contractor. Turner estimated that would be done by the end of June.

There are two other main pumping stations – Nos. 1 and 4 – that are only at 50-percent capacity because of a long-term improvement project by the parish. Those stations were built in the 1970s and use World War II-era engines that need to be replaced over the next 18 months to two years. But Turner said other pump stations nearby are at 100-percent capacity and can pick up the slack in flood-prone areas between Arabi and Paris Road.

Overall, about 75 percent of the parish pumps are working, which proved sufficient Tuesday night. Turner said the drainage canals all remained low, but they will keep the pump stations fully manned until Tropical Storm Cindy passes.

McInnis said he would prefer having all the pumps online, but doesn’t want citizens to worry.

“I don’t want our citizens misinformed that our pumps aren’t working,” he said. “We have significant pumping capacity inside our levee protection and we continue to monitor the progress of the Southeast Flood Protection Authority to get all our pumps up and running. And they did a great job last night with this rain event, keeping our drainage canals pumped out.”

© 2017 WWL-TV


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